Emory Report
October 31, 2005
Volume 58, Number 9


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October 31 , 2005
Unity Month events meant to spark dialogue, celebrate diversity

By chanmi kim

Are You In?” is the challenge of this year’s Unity Month, which kicks off today, Oct. 31, with a fair in the Dobbs Center’s Coca-Cola Commons.

Unity Month’s purpose is not only to celebrate diversity but also to “learn from each other’s differences and similarities,” said planning committee chair Donna Wong, associate director of multicultural programs and services. “It is intended to educate and raise awareness about the different cultures and riches at Emory,” she said.

To coincide with this year’s goal of opening lines of communication, Wong said, Unity Month planners worked to increase the educational activities that promote discussion and learning. “We really focused this year on having dialogue—difficult dialogue,” Wong continued.

This year’s keynote speech, to be given by Stanford University’s Lawrence Bobo and Marcyliena Morgan, professor of sociology and associate professor of communications, respectively, is a testament to this commitment. Titled “Talking Race Post-Katrina,” it will be held Nov. 14 in the School of Law’s Tull Auditorium and will cover such issues as racial dynamics, the growing gap between the rich and poor, and African Americans in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Wong said.

Provost Earl Lewis will lead the “Student Dialogue on Diversity,” to be held on
Nov. 8. Other “difficult dialogues” include a lecture by Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College and author of the book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, on Nov. 9; and another lecture, “Is Bill Cosby Right?,” by Bakari Kitwana, lecturer and author of The Rap on Gangsta Rap and Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop, and Said Sewell, assistant professor of political science at the University of West Georgia and NAACP state secretary. A panel discussion, “Affirmative Action from a Minority Perspective: Is it Fair?” (Nov. 15), will include representatives of the medical, business and law schools, and will cover not only University admissions but also employment.

Not all difficult dialogues are about race: Faisal Alam, founder of Al-Fatiha Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered Muslims, will give a speech on Nov. 2 about being a Pakistani American and a homosexual.

Some Unity Month events will simply be celebrations of diversity. These include the Cultural Beats Show, in which 10 student groups will perform cultural dances; the Fall Unity Carnival, which includes a Cultural Fashion Show; and Caribbean and Soul Food Tastings.

But Unity Month isn’t just about dialogue and celebration. Another focus of this year’s event is on service, Wong said. Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, hosted by Volunteer Emory, will include sandwich-making days at the Dobbs Center (Nov. 7–8) and its annual hunger banquet (Nov. 7). AIDS Awareness Week, which begins Nov. 28, will feature an AIDS health program, a Red Cross Blood Drive and an AIDS exhibition in the Dobbs Center. Fundraisers include Heart Walk Atlanta for the American Heart Association (Nov. 5) and the Pakistani Student Association’s Turkey Trot-Run (Nov. 17); and Emory Cares International Service Day (Nov. 12).

For more information or a full listing of Unity Month events, visit www.emory.edu/MULTICULTURAL.