Academic conference focuses on how to better foster belonging for people of color

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BYU’s continual efforts to foster a campus of inclusivity is being shown for people of color in the academic conference for scholars on Nov. 4 and 5.

Although the conference is by invitation only, the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences representatives encourage all who want to learn and support under-represented BYU members of color to be involved in the ongoing conversation on campus.

Niwako Yamawaki, associate dean, is one of the keynote speakers who has a strong background in ​​cross-cultural research to investigate cultural factors such as stigma, discrimination and collectivism. She was also this year’s award recipient of the Hickman Diversity, Collaboration and Inclusion Award.

“We have invited several dozen BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) academics — pre and post Ph.D.’s — to join with us at BYU in hopes of fostering greater dialogue, providing support and mentoring and strengthening pipelines for possible future hires within our college,” Yamawaki said.

The Committee for Diversity, Collaboration and Inclusion is a part of BYU’s efforts in committing to nurture an all-inclusive Zion community through providing ways to help train, promote, recruit and supportBlack, Indigenous and people of color faculty, staff and students. As manager of the committee, Lita Little Giddins said “diversity efforts are happening around campus.”

“Diversity committees are being created as a result of increased awareness of needs to be met and initiatives are being developed to meet those needs. There is so much work to do to increase awareness of our connectedness to humanity, each other, to heal our wounds, to remember who we are,” Giddins said. “I see and feel this movement happening. I see and feel the spiritual inclination to rise up.”

A constant theme of building a Zion community has to do with uniting all people together as one, even in the academic environment. In a recent BYU forum address, Martin Luther King III spoke to students in creating a “beloved community” which is a state of heart and mind.

“If we love God, God dwells in us. This is how we become citizens of the beloved community and step up to make a better world,” Martin Luther King III said. “It’s time to rise up in spirituality! Your personal appointment with the establishment of a beloved community is fast arising. Rise up!”

Readers interested in learning more and get involved can visit the committee’s website.

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