This upcoming Valentine Day, before you cozy up to your mate during a special night out, The Children’s Trust and the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe County invites you to face some hard uncomfortable truths about social justice. The first-ever Social Equity Day seminar takes place from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and it promises to challenge your notions of where society is regarding social justice and help chart the course for the future.
“We will challenge participants who are willing to be disturbed,” said Pamela Hollingsworth, Trust Board Member and Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiative at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe County (ELCMDM). “We want (participants) to dig down, to be reflective and take on tough considerations of bias, inclusion and their professional practice.”
Hollingsworth, Dr. Anabel Espinosa, director of Research and Evaluation at the ELCMDM, and Emani Jerome, director of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Florida International University, will act as presenters at the seminar which will take place at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center at the University of Miami. They will be joined by other speakers and panelists sure to challenge attendees notions of social equity.
Also presented by the Office of Early Learning, the seminar will encourage the sharing of experiences by those who are labeled as “other,” Hollingsworth explained. While social justice is a phrase bandied about often, Hollingsworth said individuals should try and understand the many daily challenges faced by such people. For example, imagine a ballerina being forced to use shoe polish to color your toe shoes to match your skin, or a male child wanting to go to school dressed as a girl for picture day, or indigenous children who may be learning to count or make sense of the world around them in very different ways than their classmates. "We will strive to lay the foundation for listening and understanding differences by way of simple conversations to restore hope to the future."
Those in attendance should expect to share their experiences and obversations at the seminar, which will be divided into various parts contemplating various themes within social equity. Hollingsworth said the seminar will be structured like a residential retreat. “We are setting up a 5 plus hour experience to help attendees learn about the foundations of social equity and the impact it has on education and all of our different daily practices,” she explained. “We want this to be a source of information – from a historical and institutional perspective.”
The morning session will be marked by a series of interactive activities with an emphasis on attendees talking to each other, journaling and breaking into small groups to create a dialogue. After a lunch session – where participants are encouraged to bring their own “shoebox lunches” in remembrance of the Jim Crow era where African-Americans had limited dining options when traveling – participants can choose which of several breakout sessions they want to attend.
Hollingsworth said the seminar would challenge participants to go back to their respective agencies and look inside of them through an “equity lens” to see if there are opportunities to move toward more equity. “We want to start that process of instituting change in your own lives and environments.” Other areas to be addressed include how to encourage culturally competent teaching as well as workshops on race, culture and equity.
Thursday, February 14, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Donna E. Shalala Student Center
University of Miami
1330 Miller Drive
Miami, FL 33146