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Solidarity Across Differences Series


The 2014 Bahá'í Chair for World Peace 2nd Fall Symposium

Speaker #1:

Ray RashawnBeing Color Brave rather than Colorblind: Forming a Racially-inclusive Sociological Imagination

Rashawn Ray, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland

This presentation will focus on the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and gender inequality. As institutionalized means for inclusion and exclusion, race and gender sustain status hierarchies, create distinct cultural environments, and enhance social and economic inequalities.   Using critical race and Black feminism theories, this presentation will discuss how mainstream narratives about race and gender are meant to be divisive to obstruct social change. Through an interactive, audience-based participatory exercise, we will discuss how to form solidarity and build coalitions across our racial/ethnic and gender identities. Participants will leave with strategies to combat race and gender inequality in a socially-conscious manner.

About the Speaker:
Rashawn Ray is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University in 2010. From 2010-2012 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley/UCSF. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality. His work also speaks to ways that inequality may be attenuated through racial uplift activism and social policy. Currently, Ray is working on a series projects centered on the intersections of race, class, and gender. The first project examines racial differences in barriers and incentives to physical activity among the middle class. The second project investigates how perceived body size shapes race and class differences in the mental, physical, and sexual health of girls and young women. With Dr. Kris Marsh, another project explores how the stigma of aging single influences psychological distress and physical activity among middle class Black women. Finally, with Dr. Dana Fisher, Ray is exploring the impact school gardens have on academic achievement, nutritional knowledge, and civic engagement among children in ninety elementary schools in Washington DC. Ray is the editor of Race and Ethnic Relations in the 21st Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy. His work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Journal of Higher Education, and Journal of African American Studies. Ray has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program, Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Ford Foundation.

Lecture Video

Speaker #2:

Beth CohenForging Alliances, Seeking Justice: How Relatively Privileged Young People Imagine and Build Solidarity across Difference

Beth Cohen, Ph.D., Director of Education & Training, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, University of Maryland

Drawing from data on a study of relatively privileged young people who see themselves as allies of marginalized populations, this presentation will discuss the strengths and struggles of people who are enacting various forms of solidarity. The youth included, for example, those who identify as able-bodied within the Disability Rights Movement, straight youth in Gay/Straight Alliances, American youth in the Immigrant Rights Movement, middle class and upper class youth addressing poverty, White youth engaged in anti-racism work, and young men addressing sexism in their schools and communities. The presentation will explore how various forms of solidarity are employed by young people, when solidarity is deemed successful, ethical, or sincere, and what the common pitfalls and possibilities of nurturing solidarity, as a social justice intervention, serves within educational communities. The presentation will discuss how habits of thinking, feeling, and associating limit or extend possibilities for diverse educational communities.

Beth Douthirt-Cohen, PhD, is the Director of Education & Training for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI). In this role, she directs various training and educational initiatives to strengthen inclusion and further social justice on campus for staff, faculty, and students, including the Words of Engagement: Intergroup Dialogue Program, which is a series of social justice intergroup dialogues between groups with historical tensions. Beth has worked as a social justice educator for over 18 years focused on leadership development, violence prevention, and cultural competency. Before joining ODI, Beth worked at the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity at UM for five years in communications and research. Before coming to UM, Beth was the Founding Program Director for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project in New York City and Newark, New Jersey where she supported the community-based leadership of young women ages 14-25.

She has a PhD in Sociocultural Foundations of Education from the University of Maryland, and her research focuses on how relatively privileged populations enact solidarity across difference, especially in response to identity-based violence and discrimination.

Beth has her M.Ed. from Harvard University and her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Beth teaches graduate courses on the culture of education, social justice education, the use of post-colonial cultural studies theories in applied identity-based research, and qualitative research methodologies.

Lecture Video 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - 2:00pm

McKeldin Library, Special Events Room #6137, University of Maryland College Park, MD  20742

Two Speakers. Reception immediately following.

Please fill out the RSVP form below for this free event:

The Bahá'í Chair for World Peace
University of Maryland
3101 Chincoteague Hall
7401 Preinkert Drive
College Park, MD 20742

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Phone 301-314-7714

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