New UW center to encourage race, diversity dialogue

New UW center to encourage race, diversity dialogue

The Seattle Times

Katherine Long, Seattle Times higher education reporter

Ralina Joseph is the new director of the University of Washington’s Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

A new center at the University of Washington aims to help people figure out how to better communicate about race, equity and diversity.

University of Washington professor Ralina Joseph thinks what we’re seeing in the nation today could be the start of a new civil-rights movement. And at times, college students are leading the charge.

“It feels like a moment at the UW — a potential moment of change,” Joseph said. “Students are more radicalized now, talking to faculty, than people have seen since the ’60s and early ’70s.”

Into this moment steps the university’s new Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, which opened its doors on the Seattle campus at the end of May and is headed by Joseph. Housed in the Department of Communication, it knits together 40 faculty members from a variety of departments, from American ethnic studies to history and sociology…

…She knows some critics may see the mission as another example of political correctness, and that naysayers may argue the country has moved beyond these issues — given that the nation elected a black president, Seattle elected a gay mayor, the Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriages.

Yet Joseph says the data show a person’s race, class, gender and sexual orientation “dictate how your life is going to be lived.” Those factors still influence whether you’ll be able to get a mortgage, or be approved for an apartment rental, to name just a few of the implications, she said…

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