Annual anti-racism workshop celebrates 15-year anniversary

Madeleine Swanstrom, Contributing Reporter

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Students Organizing Against Racism hosted its “Undoing Racism” workshop last weekend in the Anna Many Lounge in the Caroline Richardson building. About 40 people were in attendance, including many leaders of social justice organizations on campus.

“We like to say that we’re more than an organization,” SOAR Co-Convener of Color Alexandria Williams said. “We’re a family first, a family that strives to recognize the humanity of each individual.”

SOAR has hosted the “Undoing Racism” workshop in partnership with People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond every semester for 15 years. Grace Leyrer, the White Co-Convener of SOAR, said that the workshop is not designed to end racism in one weekend.

“It is really designed to offer people a process to further their own education and discover some strategies for community organizing,” Leyrer said.

In planning the workshop this semester, SOAR intentionally targeted social justice organizations on campus. As a part of the social justice community herself, Williams saw that most people involved in the community recognize that racism exists, but do not necessarily know how to correct it.

Williams and Leyrer invited social justice organizations to use SOAR “as a lens to make sure they’re doing their work in an anti-racist way,” Williams said.

Emma Tuttleman-Kriegler, the president of Tulane Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a board member of Students United for Reproductive Justice, attended the the workshop in order to help alleviate racism in the organizations she is involved in.

“It was healing for me to acknowledge the whiteness in [the social justice community] and see how people of color have been adversely affected on Tulane’s campus by some of the white language and discourses,” Tuttleman-Kriegler said.

Brian Lipson, the secretary of Tulane Students for Sensible Drug Policy, appreciated the “systematic approach” to guide discussion during the workshop.

The approach, he said, begins with understanding the nature of society’s major institutions.

“Only from there do you really get into the true heart of how we can all do our part to better the communities, to undo racism for everybody,” Lipson said.