Kent State’s inaugural Anti-Racism Conference aims to create long-lasting change


Courtesy of Linda Hoeptner Poling

The Anti-Racism Conference will take place Oct. 6 and 7. Registration is open.

Grace Davies, Reporter

Kent State’s first annual Anti-Racism Conference to educate about racial inequality and promote an atmosphere of advocacy for anti-racism at Kent State University will take place both virtually and in person Oct. 6 and 7.

Education about several routes of change, from advocacy to the arts, will span 35 different events, workshops and performances.

N. J. Akbar, associate vice principal for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is one of the many faculty members behind the conference. He has a background in advocacy, a heavy component of the conference.

“The main focus of my advocacy is being around education,” Akbar said. “So educational equity [and] doing more work around helping to advocate for marginalized communities and groups to ensure that they not only [have] rights that they deserve, but also the issues that marginalized people have in society are put more so in the center of the conversation instead of continuing to be pushed further and further in the margins.”

Centering marginalized voices is an essential pillar of the conference. In this process, the conference equally focuses on Kent State students and staff to become advocates, the other crucial role in the anti-racism journey.

Accessibility is also a critical component of the conference said Linda Hoeptner Poling, professor of Art Education and one of the three conference co-chairs. The conference was initially planned to be held in person, but the primarily virtual platform turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“We wanted it to be very inclusive [and] very accessible,” she said. “There’s something for everybody, no matter who attends. That, I think, is the beauty of this conference. It will not be just sitting in a room, listening to somebody drone on about theory.”

Both Akbar and Hoeptner Poling are hopeful about the conference and the potential change it will bring to the University.

“I want to see what becomes of this after the conference is over,” she said. “It just fills me with such hope that people are indeed paying attention [and] that they want to be involved in this anti-racism work.”

Notable events for the conference will be a keynote speech from Bettina Love, award-winning writer and professor, a performance from the Gum-Dip Theatre and a presentation entitled “How Artivists Will Save The World” by activist Elizabeth Vega.

Registration is required for some of the events. Events are listed as in-person or online on the sign-up page.

Grace Davies is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].