When Amy Neguse first heard the N-word on the playground in fourth grade, she did not know how to deal with it.
"I had no idea how to react or how to feel," the University of Minnesota sophomore said. "I basically just went numb."
Nearly a decade later, with the help of the student group Black Motivated Women, she said she’s beginning to assemble the tools she needs to function as a woman of color on campus.
She said issues of race and gender have driven her involvement on campus to ensure that she will never have that fourth-grade feeling again.
The first of two workshops discussing race and social justice is being held at 11:30 a.m., today, in Coffey Hall, Room 120.
"Women and Racism: Strategies for Creating Inclusive Communities" is a product of a partnership between the University’s Women’s Center and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences’ Diversity and Inclusion Office.
Anitra Cottledge, the assistant director of the Women’s Center, said the workshop’s objectives include being able to better understand personal identity as well as those of others and finding a common language to comfortably speak about issues of race.
While there are many opportunities on campus for people to speak about issues of social justice and intersectional identity, including the monthly "Girl Talk" sessions held by Black Motivated Women, Cottledge said there was a particular need for this workshop.
"While we are united as women, there are things that make our experiences unique," she said. "This workshop focuses on just one of those key differences — race."
The idea for this workshop was sparked last year when campus members wanted a community forum for women to speak about these differences.
Both Cottledge and Neguse agree that individual aspects of individual identities such as race, gender and sexuality "add to a community."
A second workshop session will be held at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, in Coffey Hall. Both sessions are free and open to the public.
"We really hope that people can come and learn about strategies they can use as allies for equity in their daily lives," Cottledge said. "I hope they can use these tools to respond to injustice whenever they come across it."