MANRRS Students Attend Overcoming Racism Conference
Three students from the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) student chapter in CFANS attended the Overcoming Racism Conference held at Metropolitan State University, November 14-15: Melanie Heckt (Nutrition major), Maria Lee (Geography major), and Aaryn Wilson (Plan Science major). Below you will find student reflections and a link to more photos from the conference.
"Attending the Overcoming Racism Conference was incredibly encouraging and thought provoking. Conferences like these are a great reminder that we are not alone in our quests for racial equity and justice. It was inspiring to see so many people dedicated to pushing against privilege and the injustices in our society. I especially appreciated that work in environmental justice was highlighted by keynote speaker, Sam Grant. I’m greatly interested in constraints to engagement in the outdoors / environmental activities. At the conference I was able to discuss minority participation rates in the outdoor industry / environmental fields. Artist and journalist Ka Vang said during her presentation, “an absent narrative is like looking in a mirror and not seeing a reflection.” It’s a myth that communities of color do not have a relationship with land. Our cultures have deep and meaningful connections with nature; however, we do not see this reflected in the narratives of the landscapes around us. We need to carve out places in land management for minority communities to fill with their stories." ~ Melanie
"Going to the Overcoming Racism Conference was such an amazing experience! It was fascinating to learn about all the ways racism works in our society because I think many believe racism doesn’t exist anymore even though it’s very rampant still and things we learned about in history class, such as housing disparity, actual still affect people today. Seeing how racism affects so many things inspired me to look at how I can play apart in racial equality while still working in my profession. One of my favorite speakers was Sam Grant who’s a public organizer and professor. His main message was that everyone needs to rekindle their relationships with nature, community, and themselves. Another main take away I got from many speakers was that everyone needs to share their stories. To make progress everyone needs to be involved. I learned a lot at the conference but I’m most excited that it gave me some direction and sparked a lot of ideas and connections within the community to help me bring forth change in CFANS and someday in my profession. We are all leaders and I learned that I can create change!" ~ Maria
"I learned a lot from the conference and took away things I should be doing in my community. One workshop presenter stated that we cannot solve climate change until we solve racial justice. This made me realize what a privilege it is to be an African American male at the University of Minnesota when so many other minorities will never be given this chance. I can play an active part in solving the achievement gap by being a mentor to youth of color. I also can play an active role in solving food justice by lending skills I learn as a Plant Science major to communities like North Minneapolis who are going forth on to build a resilient food economy there." ~ Aaryn