Diversity Events

As we grapple with our current reality, it is clear that we cannot reach next-level inclusion without having conversations about the "why," the "how," and the "now" regarding racial inequities. These often uncomfortable conversations force everyone to engage in honest reflection about their lived experiences, how such experiences differ from those of others, and why such differences matter.

It is difficult to create inclusive programs, policies, and practices without understanding the specific needs, interests, and challenges of those whom you seek to include. Inclusion must move beyond inspiring statements to understanding, respecting, and utilizing differences.

At Chicago-Kent, we are having brave conversations through our community dialogues, Equity Talks series, and antiracism initiatives. We encourage everyone to display genuine curiosity, practice active listening (listen to understand and not to defend), exercise empathy (try on perspectives of others), and commit to using information learned for future planning.

- excerpted from Assistant Dean Marsha Ross-Jackson's"Ready or Not, It's Time to Talk" from Chicago-Kent Alumni Magazine, Fall 2020, page 21

 Spring 2021 Events

Equity in Action - Acknowledging the Past, Assessing the System, and Fighting for a "Just" Future

April 9, 2021

Equity in Action - Acknowledging the Past, Assessing the System, and Fighting for a "Just" Future

Chicago-Kent hosted a live viewing of the Just Mercy film and a virtual panel discussion. Panelists included a range of local leaders who will speak to the history of the criminal legal system, recent reforms and advocacy, and the on-going struggles ahead.

This event was hosted by the ACLU, ACS, BLSA, Criminal Law Society, DALSA, HLLSA, Lambdas, MLSA, NLG, REAA, and SBA together with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Panelists:

  • Robert Peters, Illinois State Senator
  • Sharone Mitchell, Cook County Public Defender
  • Kendra Spearman '16 of Spearman Law and Executive Director at The Justice Renewal Initiative, Inc.
  • Xavier McElrath-Bey, Co-Executive Director at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
  • Dominique Gilliard, Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for Love Mercy - Do Justice at the Evangelical Covenant Church, Author of Rethinking Incarceration

Equity Talk Series

The Equity Talks Series brings together law students, lawyers and the community to discuss ways to dismantle systemic racism created by the law and other factors.

The Multifaceted Racial Inequities Impacting Education

November 18, 2020

The Multifaceted Racial Inequities Impacting Education

Panelists discussed systemic barriers that exist both inside and outside of the education system that contribute to the achievement gap between white students and students of color.

Some of the barriers include economic and school funding disparities, court decisions, social and emotional factors, disparate discipline, voting rights, mass incarceration, and implicit bias. Student Leader Gabrielle Robles served as an event moderator.

Panelists:

  • Erika K. Wilson, Associate Professor of Law, Wade Edwards Distinguished Scholar, Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy, and Director of Clinical Programs, University of North Carolina School of Law
  • Leila Morsy, Research Associate, Economic Policy Institute
  • Beulah Mcloyd, Executive Director of Program Implementation at New Leaders Org and former Chicago Public Schools principal and teacher
  • Amy Meek, Senior Counsel at Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights

The Impact of Racial Inequities in Housing on Communities of Color

October 14, 2020

The Impact of Racial Inequities in Housing on Communities of Color

Across the country, historic and ongoing housing-related segregation, displacement and exclusion have prevented people of color from obtaining and retaining their own homes and accessing safe and affordable housing. Discriminatory laws, policies and programs have resulted in low property values, decreased wealth, and increased foreclosures and homelessness.

Our panelists discussed the impact of housing inequities on communities of color, as well as ways to create more equitable housing opportunities and resources. Student leader Roberto Martinez served as a moderator for the event.

Panelists:

  • Professor Michael P. Seng, co-executive director of UIC John Marshall Law School's Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic
  • Professor Bernadette Atuahene, Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law and Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation
  • Tonika Johnson, Artist and Photographer, Co-Founder, Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) and Englewood Arts Collective
  • Niya K. Kelly, State Legislative Director at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Systemic Racism and the Disproportionate Impact of Environmental Risks and Harms on Communities of Color

September 15, 2020

Systemic Racism and the Disproportionate Impact of Environmental Risks and Harms on Communities of Color

Laws, policies and societal practices that subject many communities of color to inadequate education, segregated communities, lack of political and financial power, and other barriers, have also resulted in such communities being disproportionately exposed to environmental pollution, contamination and dangerous toxins, which negatively impact their health and home values.

Our panelists examined these and other environmental injustices and discussed current initiatives designed to create more inclusive and equitable environmental laws, regulations, policies and practices, as well as equal and fair access to a healthy environment for all. Student Leader Kenneth Walther served as a moderator for the event.

Panelists:

  • Professor Carlton Waterhouse, JD, Professor of Law at Howard University
  • Professor Keith Harley, JD, Director of the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic and Environmental Law Program at Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Peggy Salazar, Executive Director Southeast Environmental Task Force
  • Angela Tovar, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago

The Impact of Systemic Racism on the Health of Communities of Color

July 27, 2020

The Impact of Systemic Racism on the Health of Communities of Color

Laws that stigmatize or discriminate against communities of color perpetuate health disparities, which result in poor health outcomes, diminished quality of life and shortened life expectancy.

COVID-19 has heightened awareness of these disparities at national, state and local levels. This discussion reviewed ways to dismantle systemic barriers and create pathways to equitable access to healthcare and improved health outcomes. This event was moderated by Rebecca Charles '17 JD, MPH, BSN, an Associate Attorney at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP

Panelists:

  • Joel Teitelbaum, J.D., LL.M, Professor and Director of the Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program and Co-Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at George Washington University Miliken School of Public Health
  • Stephanie Altman, JD, Director of Healthcare Justice and Senior Director of Policy at Shriver Center on Poverty Law
  • Dr. Cynthia E. Boyd, MD, MBA, Interim Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer at Rush University System for Health
  • James Burroughs, II, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at Children’s Hospital Minnesota

Policing: A City Divided: Race, Fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations

June 30, 2020

 Race, Fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations

A conversation about race, fear and the law in police confrontations featuring David A. Harris, nationally recognized expert on police, race and criminal justice. Professor Harris discussed his book, A City Divided: Race, Fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations, in the context of current events.

Panelists:

  • Professor David A. Harris, Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair and Professor of Law at University of Pittsburgh
  • Jeanette Samuels '13, Partner at Shiller Preyar Jarard & Samuels
  • Karen Sheley, Director of the Police Practices Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.