Bruin Voices

We’ve compiled a series of video speeches with follow-up dialogue among attendees to engage the College on an array of topics and assist in raising awareness and building the social and intellectual capacity of the Salt Lake Community College community.

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Upcoming Events

Whiteness and the Everyday Act of Teaching: Embracing the Real-time Potential and Pitfalls of Anti-racist Education

December 15, 2017
Noon – 1 p.m.
South City Campus CAM Studio (SCM 1-084)

Gardner Seawright

gardner seawright

For years, critical educators and activists have been calling for racial justice to be brought into the classroom as part of a vision to empower all students. While there has been marked improvement in this area, from the implementation of more diverse lesson plans to the requirement for multicultural education courses in teacher-training programs, how to engage racial justice in the classroom is still a contentious work in progress. Right now, the onus for change is placed firmly on teachers and their ability to cultivate a critical consciousness and social justice ethic. This is a crucial aspect of creating anti-racist education, but if it remains the sole focus, teachers will be lacking additional tools for success. In addition, overly emphasizing critical-consciousness raising simultaneously places an unrealistic burden of success on a teacher’s capacity to generate change in the real world while discounting the way race shapes experience in the classroom beyond a teacher’s immediate control.

With this in mind, instead of consciousness, this talk uses the everyday act of pedagogy as its point of departure and point of intervention. Through a focus on learning and teaching as an unfolding experience, Seawright explores some of the ways that race comes to life in classrooms. In this way, race is resituated as a condition of a complex web of relationships set within dynamic social world. Ultimately, this talk is advocating for teachers to pay critical attention to the way that whiteness exists beyond their intellectual intention, and how it is threaded into social space and embedded in the real-time experiences of their classrooms. Embracing a pedagogy from this perspective acknowledges whiteness as a characteristic element of the learning environment, which creates a situation where teachers must recognize that they will fail in the face of whiteness because they do not have full control over their environment. But, it also creates a situation where radical possibilities coexist with failure, where teachers have the potential to curate social space and create relationships in such a way that humanization can outweigh the dehumanizing presence of whiteness.

Gardner Seawright is a doctoral candidate in the Education, Culture, and Society Department at the University of Utah, and is set to receive his PhD in May 2018. His studies focus on the everyday presence of whiteness within educational spaces, as well as the possibilities of challenging this reality. Particular attention is paid to the relationality and phenomenology of whiteness. Through this lens, Gardner has completed studies engaging the way racial hierarchies unfold within student-teacher relationships and how they are lived in educational spaces. The result of this work is primarily focused on improving teacher education. These interests also inform additional ongoing projects that explore the possibilities of place-based education, learning gardens, the potential and limits to white allyship, and the contemporary relevance of W.E.B. Du Bois.

Past Events

We are in the midst of a generational shift of seismic proportion regarding the acceptability of gender fluidity and gender diversity. Schools in Utah are adapting to meet the needs of the growing number of transgender and gender-creative students coming to school as their true selves. Join Jesse Fluetsch for an overview of the research on transgender children and a discussion of issues facing local families in Utah schools.

Jesse is an advocate for transgender and gender-expansive children and their families in our local Utah community. He is the founder and facilitator of two youth groups at the Utah Pride Center: Kids Like Me is a play group where gender expansive children and their families come together in the spirit of fostering acceptance, and Teens Like Us is a social and mutual support group for middle-schoolers. Over the last 10 years, he has filled many other leadership roles in Utah’s trans and queer communities. Fluetsch is a proud graduate of Salt Lake Community College and is currently a junior in the special education major at the University of Utah.

Cindy O. Fierros is a recent PhD graduate in the Department of Education, Culture, and Society at the University of Utah. In addition, she holds a graduate student certificate in gender studies. Fierros has taught gender studies and multicultural education courses at the University of Utah and psychology at Salt Lake Community College. Her research focuses on spiritual activism as a pedagogical tool in the classroom and feminist pedagogies. She identifies as a Chicanx mother, runner, partner, and educator. Cindy and her spouse live with their two children and corgi in Salt Lake City. She can often be found greeting the sun on the beautiful trails surrounding Salt Lake.

Joshua Stern owns and runs the No. 1 Residential Resale Team in Utah. He is a real estate coach for Keller Williams International, the No. 1 real estate and training company in the world. Stern is a partner and co-founder of Keller Williams Real Estate in Salt Lake City. He is a co-founder of three other businesses outside of his real estate practice. Prior to his real estate career, Stern had over 40 jobs and lived in five different states on his quest to live the biggest life possible. Stern attended Salt Lake Community College in 1993-94.

Thornton is a co-founder of Unshackled, a Utah-based nonprofit that is creating a religious third space for individuals who find themselves marginalized in society, because of either addiction and/or incarceration. As someone that has experienced homelessness and incarceration, Thornton is intimately aware of the many difficulties that people face when seeking basic needs like housing, employment and community.
Thornton is a civically engaged alumnus of SLCC, where he received an AAS in Culinary Arts in 2011. He participated with the Student Leaders for Civic Engagement at the Thayne Center for Service & Learning, where he co-organized a community garden at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. While a student, Thornton was an active member of the Sustainability Committee. In 2013, Thornton was awarded the Utah Campus Compact Presidential Award for Engaged Alumni.

Thornton and his wife, Andrea, have two young daughters and are pregnant with one son. As a family, they have regularly engaged in social justice actions that support marriage equality, women's rights, criminal-justice reform and environmental causes.

Shannon Cox currently serves as the founder and executive director of Journey of Hope, a Utah-based nonprofit organization. Journey of Hope provides support to women whose status puts them at-risk for criminal charges by providing them loving support and friendship through mentoring and case management. Ms. Cox has been successful at building bridges and partnerships through one common goal -- harmed girls do not have to grow into or remain harmed women. Ms. Cox has an extensive background in the criminal justice system, and her work spans across the nation. She understands that proactively engaging with the systems that work with these harmed girls long before they begin to self-medicate, self-sabotage, and find themselves caught in criminal justice system, could allow hundreds of girls in Utah to find healing and self-love long before their lives spiral away from them. Ms. Cox has helped change institutional systems by proving that intervention in early stages is much more successful than treatment at the backend of the criminal justice system. Her groundbreaking work has given her a voice in advocating on behalf of social, racial and female justice reform while asking leaders to see these issues differently.

Dr. Bewar was born in Kurdistan of Iraq. He migrated to the United States as a refugee when he was 23. He learned first-hand the challenges faced by refugee and immigrant students in navigating post-secondary education. Understanding how to support others who faced similar difficulties became his passion. He earned an Ed.D. from Argosy University in Higher Educational Leadership and wrote his dissertation on Support and Obstacles Perceived by Kurdish Immigrant Students in Reaching Higher Educational Goals.

Dr. Bewar taught Kurdish and Arabic, along with Middle Eastern culture, to the U.S. Department of Defense for over 10 years before accepting a position as a financial aid advisor at Salt Lake Community College. He also has experience in teaching Muslim culture and learning styles. He is founder and president of the Kurdish Community of Utah. Dr. Bewar is married and has a young son.

James Jackson III is the Assistant Vice President of Community Development at Zions Bank. He founded the Utah African-American Chamber of Commerce in 2009 and is the Executive Director. He is in the process of launching the chamber's charitable foundation to serve the progressive development of African refugees. Jackson is a board member or committee member of several non-profits and is an adjunct personal finance professor at Salt Lake Community College. Jackson recently started his own company, J3 Motivation, where he is a professional coach, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell team. His areas of expertise include, but are not limited to leadership, sales and organizational development. Jackson received his undergraduate degree in marketing and finance from the University of Utah in 2002 and his MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2010.

Alaa Al-Barkawi is an English and sociology major at Westminster College, where she is serving her senior year as a McNair Scholar. Al-Barkawi has focused her research as a McNair Scholar on the depiction of the hijab in popular culture, media and literature. As the editor in chief of Ellipsis, a nationally recognized literary journal, as well as a fiction writer and poet, Al-Barkawi believes some of the most effective activism is through art. Al-Barkawi strives to create stories that will reshape the views and depictions of the hijab within the Islamophobic and xenophobic views of people from the Middle East and beyond.

Ms. Nubia Peña received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2016. She was recently selected as one of 25 law students in the nation to be recognized and highlighted for her social justice activism in the National Jurist, a leading news source in legal education. Ms. Peña has actively sought to bring awareness to issues of violence and systemic oppression through her personal and professional endeavors. She has close to a decade of experience assisting survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and victims of violent crimes as a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate. Since 2007, Ms. Peña has been the Training and Prevention Education Specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) where she developed trainings on Teen Dating Violence, Latino Youth Empowerment, Assisting and Empowering Immigrant Survivors, and Understanding Rape and Sexual Assault. Her most recent endeavors include bringing awareness to the intersections of violence prevention and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, a national epidemic that targets our most vulnerable youth with disproportionate school discipline practices that streamline them into juvenile detention centers. In addition, Ms. Peña is the Program Coordinator for the Racially Just Utah Coalition where their mission is to positively and proactively ensure racial equality in Utah through policy reform, accountability, and education. Ms. Peña received a Bachelor's in Sociology with a Criminology emphasis and graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors from the University of Utah in 2006.

LaShawn Williams-Schultz has been a social worker since 2001 where she worked in the school system on behalf of children and youth who needed therapeutic support in the classroom. She also coordinated treatment statewide for youth in residential care. LaShawn is a Masters Level social worker who has since worked with youth in state custody as a mental health therapist and currently works with individuals, families, and couples at Wasatch Family Therapy. LaShawn is also an assistant professor of Social Work at Utah Valley University where she trains helping professionals in the practice of connection using Relational Cultural Theory. She is completing her Doctorate in Education this year by studying the experiences of faculty who teach diversity in the classroom setting, in particular, how they resolve the conflicts that inevitably arise. It is her belief that the ability to connect across difference and reconnect after disconnection matters most in times of ongoing social change. It is this passion that drives her work to educate those who have an investment in changing the world. LaShawn is a passionate Multicultural Educator, Practitioner, and Parent who believes that using inevitable conflict as a tool for growth helps create the lasting changes necessary to move society forward - one relationship at a time.

Nicole Tyler is a sophomore majoring in English with a psychology minor at Westminster College. Since finding the slam community in September of 2014, Nicole has been part of the Westminster College 2015 Collegiate Union Poetry Slam Invitational team, was a finalist for both Salt City Slam and Sugar Slam's 2014-2015 season, took fourth in the 2015 Utah Arts Festival Team Slam with Westminster College, represented Salt Lake City at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam, is the current Slam Master of Westminster Slam, and will be representing Salt Lake City in the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Outside of school or slam, Nicole can be found volunteering at Best Friends Animal Shelter and looking for ways to give back to her community.

Join President Huftalin as she leads a discussion on the dynamics of change and how it impacts us as SLCC community members. The discussion will focus on what drives change, what are the implications of change and how we can individually embrace change rather than run from it.

Lisa Bickmore's poems and video work have appeared in a number of publications, including Quarterly West, Tar River Poetry, Caketrain, Sugarhouse Review, The Moth, Terrain, Mapping Salt Lake City and Southword. Among her honors is the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize for 2015. Her book flicker was published by Elixir Press in 2016. It won the 2014 Antivenom Prize. Bickmore is an associate professor of English at Salt Lake Community College and one of the founders of its Publication Center.

Dr. William A. Smith is an associate professor in the Department of Education, Culture & Society and the Ethnic Studies Program at the University of Utah, where he has served as the associate dean for diversity, access & equity in the College of Education, as well as the special assistant to the president & NCAA Faculty Athletics representative.

Dr. Smith is the co-editor with Philip Altbach & Kofi Lomotey of The Racial Crisis in American Higher Education: The Continuing Challenges for the 21st Century (2002). His work primarily focuses on his theoretical contribution of racial battle fatigue which is the cumulative emotional, psychological, physiological and behavioral effects that racial microaggressions have on people of color.