On Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the Mabel Brown Room of the Young Student Center, Keene State College hosted racial justice visionary Rinku Sen.
Rinku Sen is the President and Executive Director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and is the author of the book, “The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization,” which documents the life of Moroccan immigrant Fekkak Mamdouh, who co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York after the 9/11 attacks.
As the president of Race Forward, Sen said that she oversees the publication of the news site Colorlines and has initiated projects such as “Shattered Families” and “Drop the I-Word,” which positively affect the perception of immigrants in the United States.
Founded in 1981, the mission of Race Forward, according to Sen, is “to build awareness, solutions and leadership for racial justice by generating transformative ideas, information and experiences”.
Dr. Karen Jennings, professor of psychology at Keene State College, introduced Rinku Sen to the audience. In her lecture, “The Big Picture: Structural Racism, Equity, and Intersectionality,” Sen spoke of the importance of establishing a “multiracial pluralistic democracy,” which would allow Americans of all ethnicities equal social and political rights.
She outlined the following three strategies to establish this democracy: be explicit about racial justice, focus on impact and make equity, not diversity, the objective.
KSC senior Liz Rizzitano said that she enjoyed the lecture. Rizzitano said, “People need to hear conversations pertinent to the current political atmosphere.”
Folake Oyegbola, a graduate student from the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute in Vermont, also attended the event with members of her class. Oyegbola said that it was “very interesting to see whites [at the lecture] as a black female.”
“It’s exciting and inspiring that racism is not just talked about among blacks,” Oyegbola said.
Alex Weiss, also a graduate student from the SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont, said that he has been interested in attending a lecture by Rinku Sen since he has read some of her publications.
Weiss said that the lecture “focused on local issues, while the focus of current federal politics is overwhelming.”
Ethan Chalmers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org