For the first time in three years, the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee Conference was held in-person, and it attracted more than 125 educators from across the state.
The Dec. 2-3 conference, organized by the MTA EMAC Committee, featured an opening keynote address by David Stovall, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who addressed subjects including forms of white supremacy, gentrification, and how politics and race are reflected in standardized tests, and academic “standards” and “rigor.”
Stovall, a professor in the departments of Black Studies and Criminology, Law & Justice, is a scholar who investigates areas including critical race theory, the relationship between housing and education, and the intersection of race, place and school.
In his address on Dec. 2, he said a commitment to racial justice requires people to talk about “the way the world is” and work to change those conditions. “We live in a land founded by slavery, genocide and wrongful land appropriation,” he said. “That’s a historical fact. It is not conjecture.”
A commitment to racial justice requires people to talk about “the way the world is” and work to change those conditions.University of Illinois at Chicago Professor David Stovall
Individual sessions on Dec. 3 included workshops on building union power, how to navigate difficult conversations with peers, building intergenerational, intersectional climate coalitions, and the impact of standardized testing.
The EMAC Committee members participated on Saturday in a moderated discussion of current issues, including how they balance their work and union lives, representation of diverse educators in schools and the comradery of belonging to groups with shared interests and backgrounds. The panel was moderated by Christine Sampson-Clark, a member of the NEA Executive Committee, and a longtime educator in Trenton, N.J.
The conference was held at the Verve Hotel in Natick and attracted Education Support Professionals, Retired members and educators from all grade levels.
Yemisi Oluwole, a member of the Cambridge Education Association, attended the EMAC Conference for the first time. Oluwole is an officer in the local, serving as secretary, and has worked as an Education Support Professional for nine years. Oluwole wanted to attend to feel the engagement of other educators and to learn more about shared challenges.
In the course of daily work, educators do not have time to get together otherwise. “We don’t have an opportunity to do this,” Oluwole said.