2014-2015 Critical Conversations

COME TO THE TABLE: Food Security and Sustainability as a Social Justice Issue

Friday, September 26, 2014 (Watch the video here)

Globally, nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012 (UN Food & Agriculture Organization/UNFAO). Most live in developing countries, but 16 million reside in developed countries, a surprising increase after steady decreases in the 1990s. While economic progress helped reduce hunger in Asia and Latin America, Africa’s undernourished grew to nearly one in four people (UNFAO 2012). Looking closer to home, how are race, poverty and food security related? Are sustainability and food security connected, and if so, how? According to the USDA, nearly one-fourth of African-American and Hispanic households and over 11% of white households suffered from food insecurity in 2012 (USDA Economic Research Service, 9/2013). Learn more about how food policies and production affect the food we all bring to our table.

Panelists:  Pakou Hang, Executive Director, Hmong American Farmers Association; William (Will) Hueston, University of Minnesota Professor of Veterinary Population Medicine, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety; David Nicholson, Executive Director, Headwaters Foundation; Okey Ukaga, University of Minnesota Extension Professor and Executive Director, Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.  Moderator:  Laura Bloomberg, Associate Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "Food Security and Sustainability as a Social Justice Issue"


BISEXUALITY & BEYOND: Re-imagining Sexual Orientation

Friday, October 10, 2014 (Watch the video here)

Just as our understandings of gender continue to move beyond binary, mutually exclusive notions of male and female, so, too, do our understandings of sexual orientation and sexual identity.  Too often social and political gains, such as the legal recognition of “gay marriage,” obscure the “B” in GLBT.  Those who identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual, fluid and related identities, are often lost between the gay/straight binary that has taken hold in our language, our media, and our political debates.  This discussion moves beyond these binaries to address how sexuality actually functions in our lives, and how a more nuanced and complex understanding of sexual identity benefits all.

Panelists:  Sol Ras Asanti, Community Organizer, Pan Afrikan Nationalist, Youth Worker, Gender Liberationist; Meg John Barker, Senior Lecturer in psychology at The Open University, and head of BiUK; Alex Iantaffi, University of Minnesota Assistant Professor of Family Medicine/Community Health in the Program for Human Sexuality; Chong Moua, Community Organizer, Speaker, Mother.  Moderator:  Frankie Jader, Office Manager, GLBTA Programs Office, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "Re-imagining Sexual Orientation"


MUSLIM IN MINNESOTA: Keeping the Faith, Dispelling Stereotypes, Achieving Success

Friday, November 21, 2014 (Watch the video here)

Although a large number of recent immigrants to Minnesota are Muslim, Islam in the U.S. has a much longer history. First arriving via ships bringing sailors and black slaves from Africa, it later came through Syrian, Jordanian, and Lebanese immigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Great Migration of African Americans to the urban North saw an expansion of Islam, and Malcolm X and others sought its power in the struggle for civil rights. What is the image of “Muslim” in our post-9/11 world? Join a conversation offering greater knowledge and understanding about Islam and basic teachings of the Quran. Through dialogue based on mutual respect, dispel myths and stereotypes about “the Other” among both Muslims and Westerners, and help advance greater respect for diverse cultures and faiths.

Panelists:  Cawo Abdi, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Sociology; Kishwar Bayunus, former Council of Trustees Chair and Women’s Society President, current Muslim Women Speaker’s Bureau, Islamic Center of Minnesota, Policy Council member, Anoka/Washington Counties Head Start; Aasimkore Shabazz, University of Minnesota graduate student.  Moderator:  Shakeer Abdullah, Assistant Vice President, Office for Equity and Diversity, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "Keeping the Faith, Dispelling Stereotypes, Achieving Succes"


FROM REFUGEE TO CITIZEN: The Hmong Journey from Rural History to Urban Experience

Friday, January 30, 2015 (Watch the video here)

Moderator and Panelists

Nearly 49% of Hmong people in the US live in the Midwest, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to the largest urban population of Hmong Americans. What factors characterized the large migration of Hmongfrom 1978 through the 1980s, compared to those who arrived after 2000? How are the demographics and interests within these two groups similar in some ways, but also different?  How has their agricultural history affected Hmong life in the US and how are different attitudes and interests about the urban experience expressed across  generations? Collectively, Hmong in the US are young, with 44% under the age of 18 (2010 US Census). How are youth in this community affecting traditional attitudes, practices, and beliefs regarding education, the role of women, marriage and family, the importance of clan, and many other issues? Through their personal stories and professional experiences, learn how our panelists have become active citizens, entrepreneurs, scholars, and political leaders, helping to solve community problems and contributing to society as a whole.

Panelists:  Foung Hawj, Senator, Minnesota Legislature; Kao Nou Moua, University of Minnesota doctoral student and Research Associate, School of Social Work; Bao Vang, Executive Director, Hmong American Partnership; Zha Blong Xiong, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Family Social Science.  Moderator:  Juavah Lee, Assistant Director, Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, Office for Equity and Diversity, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "The Hmong Journey from Rural History to Urban Experience"


BEYOND MYTH-MAKING AND APPROPRIATION: African Americans in Theater and Film

Friday, February 27, 2015 (Watch the video here)

In 1939, Hattie McDaniel broke the color line by becoming the first black actress to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in the film Gone with the Wind. In 2012, Octavia Spencer also won an Oscar for playing a maid in The Help. What has changed in the portrayal of blacks in cinema and on stage? These two awards are complicated, juxtaposing great talent with persistent stereotypes of blacks as domestic servants, drug dealers, or others consistently needing help from white benefactors. Problematic, often racist depictions continue to appear in film, theater, and social media, where minstrels and blackface still surface in YouTube videos, even of our current African American President. In a discussion drawing from the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and current theater and film, learn more about African American artistic contributions, not only dispelling myths and stereotypes, but also revealing the appropriation of black culture by white artists.

Panelists: Dominic Taylor, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance; Maya Washington, Minnesota actor and filmmaker; Harry Waters Jr., Macalester College Professor, Department of Theater and Dance; actor, director, community-based theater maker; Erin Michelle Washington, 2014-2015 August Wilson Fellow and PhD student, University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance.  Moderator:  Katrice Albert, Vice President, Office for Equity and Diversity, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "African Americans in Theater and Film"


THE PRICE OF HEALING: Diversity Issues in Wellness, Health and Healthcare

Friday, March 27, 2015 (Watch the video here)

The US spends the greatest amount of GDP on health care per capita among the “most advanced” countries yet ranks 46th in the world regarding “most efficient” healthcare (Bloomberg, 2013). This conversation examines health care research and treatment disparities while also exploring cultural knowledge and practices that communities use to maintain health. One’s view about health can be influenced by race, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic status, gender, spirituality and other factors. How do our cultural lenses and experiences affect how we think about health and health care? Historically, how have health care professionals and providers delivered treatment to diverse individuals and groups? What groups have been considered “normative” for research about disease prevention and treatment? What can be learned from various cultures that may improve health and wellness in the US?

Panelists:  Elder Atum Azzahir, Executive Director, Cultural Wellness Center, Minneapolis; Dylan Flunker, Policy and Community Organizing Coordinator, Rainbow Health Initiative; Rhonda Jones-Webb, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Epidemiology; Patina Park, Cheyenne River Lakota and Director, Minnesota American Indian Women’s Resource Center.  Moderator:  Doneka Scott, Assistant Vice Provost, Office for Equity and Diversity, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "Diversity Issues in Wellness, Health and Healthcare"


THE ANIMAL/HUMAN CONNECTION: Clarifying the Roles of Service, Emotional Support, and Therapy Animals

Friday, April 17, 2015 (Watch the captioned video here)

Click here for an info sheet on Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals from the Disability Resource Center

For millennia, humans have had complex relationships with animals. They have served humans as a source of food, tools, clothing, and scientific research; they have provided labor, transportation, and companionship, and in certain cultures, they are Critical Conversations Panelists and Moderatorseen as inspirational, even sacred.  This conversation explores animal/human emotional, physical, and cognitive connections and addresses specific questions and issues involved in the use of service animals that work with people with disabilities.  It also provides important information about the differences among service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. Join us for a conversation that expands our understanding of animal roles, care, and relationships with their human owners and handlers.

Panelists:  Eileen Bohn, Cofounder and Program Director, Helping Paws; Jay Wilson, Access Consultant - Student Access, Disability Resource Center, University of Minnesota; Susan O’Connor-Von, University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Nursing and registered animal-assisted therapy handler; Pia Sass, medically retired attorney and community participant.  Moderator:  Donna Johnson, Director, Disability Resource Center, University of Minnesota.

Click here for more resources from the University Libraries on "The Animal/Human Connection"