Student and Faculty Spotlights
Fall 2020 Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award
Integrative Studies, Sociology
I discovered the IRIS department during my second semester at Grand Valley. I met with my advisor and learned about the opportunity a Liberal Studies degree might offer me: academic freedom to create an individualized learning plan, an interdisciplinary education, and academic rigor partnered with intentional reflections about myself and my identity. As a student in the IRIS program I had the opportunity to apply and enroll in Semester in Detroit, GVSU’s partnership program with The University of Michigan. Once accepted into the cohort, I was able to spend the fall of 2019 living in Detroit and working as an intern at The James and Grace Lee Boggs School.
In Detroit I was given the opportunity to learn from countless community members, organizers, and activists. My time in Detroit helped me transform my understanding of academic theory into real world practice. I was forced to confront the realities of environmental racism, gentrification, systematic racism, and white supremacy. Learning so much about the massive levels of inequity and the extreme challenges it might take to overcome that inequity I became discouraged, even hopeless. So many people were already organizing and fighting for important changes, what could possibly be my role in this work?
This is when I got the idea to start Interrogate Injustice, a social justice centered community book club. I have learned a lot through my conversations with members of Interrogate Injustice. Largely due to our positive and impactful experience as a book group, I was compelled to create “An Anti-Racist Reading Guide for White People” so that others could take part in this important work too. The guide I created contains 6 selected readings as well as discussion questions and journal prompts for readers to engage with. Each reading selection has been informed by my own identity and personal experiences - and each has helped me learn more about myself and my organizing work.
Receiving the Krohmer award has been an absolute honor. This reading guide would not be possible without the theory I learned at GVSU, the rich learning experiences I had in Detroit, and the compelling discussions I have been able to engage in with members of Interrogate Injustice. I’m excited about “An Anti-Racist Reading Guide for White People”, but I am even more excited to refine and improve upon it in the months following graduation. It’s my hope that with the guidance I have provided other groups of white people will be able to come together in order to confront systematic racism and our legacy of white supremacist's violence.
Following graduation I moved to Lake Tahoe, California where I am currently working in the hospitality industry and snowboarding everyday. While I am enjoying the winter here, my goal is to take a full time position in the fight for racial equity. I hope to do so by engaging in conversations with other white people about racism, white supremacy, and anti-racism.
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