How Do We Begin: A Historical Reckoning with Anti-Black Racism at U-M

How Do We Begin: A Historical Reckoning with Anti-Black Racism at U-M

Written by guest playwright and U-M alumnx Jordan Harris, this short series of plays illuminates U-M’s complicated relationship to elitism and racial inequity. Using Matthew Johnson’s book Undermining Racial Justice (a historical analysis of the admissions processes at U-M) as an entry point, the play examines how American colleges and universities–and U-M specifically–have perpetuated anti-Blackness while simultaneously benefiting from their association with inclusive values. Through a series of facilitated discussion and activities, participants will wrestle with a central question: with an understanding of our inequitable past and present, how will we imagine and pursue a racially just future?

The session length is 2 hours. How Do We Begin is currently offered in a fully virtual, synchronous format.

**The theatrical portion of this session deals directly with anti-Black racism in the academy and its disproportionate impacts.

In this session, participants will:

  • Reflect on their experience, agency, and accountability within this history/present.
  • Unpack crucial disconnects between institutional rhetoric and action.
  • Practice brainstorming ways to disrupt anti-Black racism in their professional practice.
What people have said about How Do We Begin: A Historical Reckoning with Anti-Black Racism at U-M :
This play did a beautiful job at intertwining personal and systemic stories, making you explore what you can do regardless of the complex racist history or how big the task seems (there is always something you can do.)
This play drew you in the entire time. There was no moment I was not engaged. It was validating that the play spoke the truth about the complex racist history of academia and U-M explicitly and held the U-M accountable. It humanized the experience of people of color and how people of color have been used to maintain a class/elitist hierarchy. The intersectionality of race and class was very evident and appreciated.
I thought this play was very impactful, and it was a beautifully well-conveyed message about the anti-Blackness that has and continues to be perpetuated on campus.
Overall, I thought the session was extremely well done, quite possibly the best Zoom workshop I have ever attended. I really appreciated the reflection prompts between the plays. The execution was excellent and the prompts/breakout rooms struck a good balance of watching, reflecting, and engaging with others. I was engaged the entire time (which is very difficult for a 2 hour virtual session).
Click here to visit our What the Audience Is Saying page to read more.