This is an important year for Whitman’s annual Power and Privilege Symposium. For one, it marks the fifth anniversary of the cancellation of classes in order for this event to take place. The rising success of the Symposium has been the result of a collective effort of passionate students, staff, and faculty to bring attention to racism and other forms of oppression that manifest on our campus. What began as an organized student response to a blackface incident and other instances of racism on Whitman’s campus, has become a day-long event dedicated to engaging with the dynamics that form our communities and our world. We often take the events marked on our academic calendars for granted, but it is important to acknowledge the work, especially on the part of women of color, that it took to bring the Symposium into existence.
The past year has been defined by a changing and uncertain political and social climate. For many of us, this change has meant fear, grief, and uncertainty as queer, trans, undocumented, black, and Native/indigenous communities continue to face police brutality, deportation, sexual assault, and colonial violence. Out of this injustice, new struggles to fight for our collective safety and rights, and to begin imagining another future, have arisen.
This year’s theme, ‘Resist!’ speaks to those struggles. ‘Resist!’ is a reminder that no matter how dire the situation may seem, no matter how steep the obstacles appear, we must speak up and act to transform the oppressive forces around us. With this year’s theme, we center and connect struggles against white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism, ableism, and all forms of domination, and commit ourselves to making those struggles our own.
As you attend DeRay McKesson’s keynote speech and attend sessions throughout the day, take a moment and step back from the classroom, from the hustle and bustle of the sessions and events, and ask yourself: How can I best use my knowledge and power to effect positive change? How do I use this opportunity to organize with my peers and transform our campus and communities? Moving forward, we encourage you to continue to listen, speak out, build community, and organize for change.
The Power and Privilege Symposium Executive Committee
The Symposium's Executive Team cordially invites you to DeRay Mckesson's keynote speech, The Other Side of Freedom, beginning at 7PM on February 21st in Cordiner Hall.