Our department has four core programmatic series. These series have been structured to represent the five steps of Cross’ Model of Nigrescence of Racial Identity Development (Cross Jr., 1978). The five stages progress as follows:
- Pre-encounter (the stage where one is unaware of identity),
- Encounter (the stage where one awakens cultural consciousness),
- Immersion/Emersion (the stage where psychological defensiveness is replaced by cognitive openness),
- Internationalization (the stage where one is able to forge relationships with those holding other identities through resolving personal conflicts), and
- Internalization-Commitment (the stage where one is able to balance the identities of themselves and others and can become agents of social change).
Our core programs were structured this way in an effort to engage community members who are in different stages of their own identity development. Although Cross’ Model was created to represent the stages of developing racial consciousness, our office applies the same theoretical model to all other social identity groups. These programs are cohesively linked through our annual themes.
Mundo Lingo: Conversation Starter Series
Mundo Lingo was created around the Pre-Encounter stage to serve as an entry-level program for participants at the beginner level of their identity development. Mundo Lingo encourages community members to come for a casual conversation, with each other while being exposed to different cultural items, food, and campus organizations. This may be done through a film screening and discussion, trying out a new recipe, or discussing a culturally specific topic either within the U.S. or internationally. The intention in having these aspects spotlighted in order to increase exposure to their cultural programs, initiatives, language(s) or heritage. Our goal is to do this mindfully through appreciating the diversity of people’s culture without appropriation. Mundo Lingo has no critical focus on how our socio-political world impacts cultural differences but rather focuses on exposure on cultural phenomena and their respective people. We highly encourage those who are new to diversity, equity, and inclusion based-programs to attend.
PAWTalks: Inspirational Speaker Series
PAWTalks is a TEDTalk inspired series that was created around the Encounter stage that highlights the richness of various cultures through storytelling from diverse speakers representing various backgrounds. This series highlights an interactive cultural sharing experience relating to the speaker’s identity, social justice issues relevant to them, and how their own social identity development has informed their activism and/or career. Speakers share their lived experiences to influence introspection of one’s own identity. This is done through art, music, film, book, or other forms of performance or presentation in conjunction with the traditional “TEDTalk” style talk. After the talk, time is allotted for discussion at the end of each session for community members to ask questions or share their own stories causing higher visibility of various social identities. PAWTalks aims to raise identity consciousness for those with different identities, while affirming those with similar identities of the speaker. These talks are typically recorded and available online on our myUMBC group page.
What’s The (T)ea?: Social Justice Dialogue Series
What’s The (T)ea? was created around the Immersion/Emersion stage. The title of this series comes from the phrase “What’s the T?”, a phrase originating from 1970s-1980s Black Gay Ball culture, meaning “What’s going on?” or “What’s up?.” As such, the titles of these sessions are typically structured in the form of a question. What’s The (T)ea? is geared to explore various social justice-related and/or identity-developmental topics and issues affecting various marginalized populations. The sessions are made to create a space for participants to grapple with the question at hand, specifically in relation to how their identities may play a role into the subject in question. Each session is structured to include a brief lecture with background information followed by pair-share, table, and large group discussions, while enjoying tea and snacks. The goal of the series is to explore the background historical influences of that impact the discussion topic and explore how interaction styles can show up in dialogue with others to shift how community members can incorporate vulnerable social justice dialogue practices in their personal lives.
How to Be A Better Ally: Allyship Development Workshop Series
How to Be A Better Ally was created around the final fourth and fifth stages of Cross’ Model, the Internalization and Internalization-Commitment Stages respectively. The goal of these interactive workshops is for participants to learn about how power, privilege, and oppression impact the highlighted population, so they can incorporate best practices to refine their allyship techniques. Therefore, the titles of each of the How to Be A Better Ally sessions include the specific social identity group(s) that will be centered in the workshop. This series is structured for community members who are intermediate to advanced in their ability to participate in identity, diversity, equity, and inclusion based topics. However, since learning allyship skills is not linear, nor have an endpoint, the series can still help those who either have limited knowledge on particular populations, or are willing to improve their skills and knowledge. Participants are encouraged to engage to have difficult conversations with themselves, specifically how they may discover that some of their actions, or inactions that they have participated in have further reinforced discriminatory and/or oppressive attitudes in the highlighted community. At the conclusion of each workshop, participants complete an allyship action plan in connection with the highlighted population in an effort for them to practice their active allyship skills that they are able to take with them to allow them to integrate them into their daily practices in their personal and professional lives.