Held January 18—20th, the MLK Summit used a combination of videos, discussion groups, and exercises to explore topics of identity, including gender, race, and sexual orientation. The annual event had eight student facilitators, who had previously participated in the summit, and more than a dozen adults taking part.
“The idea is to have the kids think about how their identities impact their view of the world and how the world views them,” said Hun Director of Cultural Competence and Global Diversity Otis Douce, lead organizer of the summit. “We hope the students come away with an understanding of how systems of inequality operate and how they can become change agents.”
Topics explored included everything from “redlining,” the practice of refusing mortgages to borrowers who live in poorer neighborhoods, to the concepts of oppression and privilege, to the idea of the “iceberg” personality (that only a portion of our true personalities are revealed to most people.) Summit participants, who were split into smaller discussion groups, also explored techniques for change, such as how to be an ally to someone who is different from yourself, and formulating action projects for their schools and communities.
Participants even took a break to build towers out of marshmallows and spaghetti. Each student was given different sizes and types of materials, a metaphor for how different people live life with different resources.
Student Milan Moise ’21, said the summit taught her how much she has to learn about issues of equity, social justice, and identity. For example, Milan learned about the issue of gentrification, in which poor neighborhoods are transformed by new property owners, sometimes changing the character of the neighborhood and pricing out current residents. Milan went home and discussed the issue with her mother, who is a realtor.
“We all kind of went in thinking that we knew so much, and the structure of the summit made us explain ourselves, and explore the reasoning behind what we think,” said Milan. “It made me realize how much we need to educate ourselves to address these issues. I’m really glad I took part.”