Neumann University's DEI Committee will launch the 21-Day Challenge for Racial Justice Program on October 28 to give employees and students opportunities to deepen their understanding of topics related to racial justice. The three-week program focuses on the following themes: Historical Context of Race and Racism, Whiteness and Privilege, and Steps Forward.
The concept of a challenge was initiated by members of the DEI Education & Development Group, which William Pezzoti and Bettsy McKlaine facilitate. After searching for options, they decided to adopt one developed by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., founder of America & MOORE, LLC, which offers diversity, privilege, and leadership trainings and workshops.
Those who sign up for the challenge will be asked to read and/or watch pre-selected materials that relate to the weekly themes and reflect upon these exercises in a journal (which will be provided by the group). There will be several options available to participants (e.g., YouTube videos and TED talks), and they can choose how many they want to review.
There is also an option to have a "peer accountability partner," with whom participants will meet weekly to discuss their thoughts and feelings about the materials reviewed. These meetings can be in person or virtual via Teams, emails, text, etc.
"The idea is to have someone who walks with you and makes you accountable for doing the challenge. If you want to do it by yourself, that's fine too," Pezzoti, an alumnus and adjunct faculty member.
The journaling portion of the challenge will allow participants to reflect on what they read or watched. They can discern how the piece makes them feel, discover an ah-ha moment in the material, and develop strategies in their daily lives to promote racial justice.
Each Friday, participants will meet for lunch in the McNichol room to engage in an open dialog about the week's theme. A Teams link will also be provided for those who cannot attend in person.
According to Pezzoti, it takes 21 days to create a habit. This challenge aims to develop positive habits that will lead to participants becoming more aware, compassionate and engaged in the quest for racial equity. The resources provided will empower participants to become more influential players in the search for equity and justice.
"We wanted something that everybody could be a part of and would support the university in building effective social justice habits. Those habits will effect meaningful change," he said.
The 21-Day Challenge for Racial Justice is open to all members of the Neumann University community. The kickoff meeting will be held on October 28, and sign-up forms will be forthcoming this week via email.