Unity Week events bring students together

By Kabrina Edwards - Staff Reporter

An examination of social injustice patterns and how people are overcoming those barriers is the theme of the 21st annual Unity Through Diversity Week that begins Monday.

The theme is, officially, Breaking Patterns: Our Time is Now and will examine the diversity of the south King County community with regard to race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability and religion.

Unity Week, April 23 to 27, is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Leadership and Service, and Highline's Learning and Teaching Center.

 "What I want people to take away from this is what did I learn that I didn't know before? Or what can I do to create change?"  said Doris Martinez, Unity Week chairman.

Seven specific events highlight Unity Week this year. 

On Monday, April 23, Agency and Agencies, Black Panther and King Leopold's Killmonger will examine the current hit movie Black Panther, and its global impact in prompting discussions about its themes.  The lecture will be presented by Dr. Jared Ball, Mark Bolden, and Todd Burroughs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Building 7. 

Later that day, Oriana Estrata will explore Roots, Rhythm and Raza; Salsa Music and Dance from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in Building 8, Mt. Constance room.  

In this interactive program, they will be talking about salsa and its African roots. 

On Tuesday, April 24, the documentary Bottom Dollars will be screened from 10-11:30 a.m. in Building 7.

The film exposes the exploitation of nearly 25,000 people with disabilities in the United States who are legally being paid subminimum wages and calls for the phase-out of sheltered workshops.

On Wednesday, April 25, Ivanova Smith will present the lecture History to True Inclusion and Battles We Still Have to Fight! from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in Building 7. The topic is the history of the disability rights movement.

On Thursday, April 26, Vanessa Na conduct the workshop #NotYourWedge: Asian American Student Activism and Transformational Resistance from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Building 7.

This presentation will explore the challenges Asian American students face and how they've formed coalitions to resist being marginalized as "forever foreigners" and model minorities.

On Friday, April 27, the film The Gentleman Bank Robber will be screened from 10 to 11:50 a.m. in Building 7, followed by a panel discussion. Julie Perini, the director, will be joined by former George Jackson Brigade members Janine Bertram and Ed Mead.

The Gentleman Bank Robber profiles Rita Bo Brown, a white working class butch from rural Oregon known for her style of dress and polite way of demanding funds from bank tellers. The film explores 20th century social movements, including queer liberation in the 1960s; the militant activities of the revolutionary prison abolitionist George Jackson Brigade in the 1970s; political prisoner support work in the 1980s; and prison activist work into the present day. 

From 2 to 4 p.m., First Friday Leadership Institute will host a workshop presented by Jerrell Davis titled MANIFEST in the Mt. Constance Room of Building 8

This program will be focusing on prison abolition, local politics and power of artistic expression through art.

"Our goal is to simply highlight and celebrate the rich diversity that Highline has," coordinator Doris Martinez said.

The programs are all meant to "demonstrate the diversity we want to celebrate," said Astrid Duenas, Speaker of the Caucus for Student Government. 

This year's program includes a greater emphasis on the arts and incorporates movies into the line-up to be more relevant to current issues and events, Martinez.

The biggest problem with this year's Unity Through Diversity Week was programming, Martinez said. They had so many topics that they wanted to execute but they had to make sure each program captured the theme that they wanted to illustrate. 

Unity Week isn't just for the students, even though it is geared towards students.

"It's for the staff and the community as well," said Shannon Waits, director of Academic Assessment and Placement and Testing Center, and a Unity Week committee member.

The scale of the presentation requires considerable volunteer help and the committee is still seeking help. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to contact Duenas at aduenasdiaz@highline.edu or call 206-592-3215. 

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