Burke and DiMarco
Features & Articles

Learn to fight inequity at this year’s Diversity Forum

  • University News
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Speakers at the University of Pittsburgh’s third-annual 2022 Diversity Forum will examine the systems that contribute to inequitable outcomes while empowering attendees to create diverse, inclusive spaces in their own lives.

The forum, titled “Rewiring Our Systems: Transforming the Intersections of Inequity,” will be held for free online from July 25-28. More than 65 sessions will be available, touching on a variety of topics including the intersections of social identities and strategies for advancing social justice.

“The forum is focused on addressing widespread societal issues that extend beyond just the Pitt community,” said Ron Idoko, diversity and multicultural program manager for Pitt’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI). “We want participants inside and outside of Pitt to think about the best possible methods for positioning and supporting people, communities and organizations to create equitable and inclusive environments.”

The week’s events begin with a pre-forum institute“Illuminating the Vaccine for Racism: Embodying Grounded Personal and Collective Racial Equity Consciousness,” taking place on July 25 and 26.

The institute will provide guidance and strategies for engaging in meaningful conversations about the complexity and pervasiveness of racism, Idoko said. It also offers participants a chance to explore methods to catalyze ideas, practices and cultures that lead to racial equity. 

“The institute has been a tremendous success in past years, providing a space for meaningful dialogue among the Pitt community about the causes and potential solutions for racial inequity,” Idoko said.

Registration for the pre-forum institute is open and available for free to all members of the Pitt community. For people outside of the Pitt community, the cost is $199. Spaces are limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Register on OEDI’s website.

The forum begins in earnest on July 26 at 5:30 p.m. with keynote speaker Nyle DiMarco, Deaf activist and winner of “America’s Next Top Model” and “Dancing with the Stars.” He will speak with author and Pitt Department of English instructor Katie Booth about his life as a member of the Deaf community and the value of nonverbal communication and embracing one’s identity. ASL/English interpretation will be provided.

[Listen and watch a Q&A and ASL-signed excerpt from Katie Booth’s book, “The Invention of Miracles.”]

The second keynote speaker is Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, whose session at 9 a.m. on July 27 with Pitt Law’s Jabeen Adawi will discuss empowerment through empathy, barriers to survivors' healing and how everyone can disrupt systems that perpetuate sexual violence. 

Concurrent workshop sessions will run at 10:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Featured lunchtime sessions include a conversation on redlining and on reproductive autonomy.

Wednesday’s events will conclude with a discussion moderated by Pitt’s David Miguel Molina titled “Online Activism: Social Justice in Digital Spaces.” Thursday’s final session, moderated by Associate Dean of Students for Wellness Jay Darr, will be a time to focus on grace and healing.

The forum’s topics and objectives are tied directly to the Plan for Pitt, which prioritizes promoting a campus environment that embraces the diverse perspectives of each member of the Pitt community.

Idoko said the forum is for people just starting to learn about social justice work as well as veterans of the field.

“If you have a desire to advance social change and social justice and further understand the issues impacting our society related to systemic oppression and structural inequity, then the forum is for you,” Idoko said. “The public will have the opportunity to learn more about how they can be leaders for change and how they can affect positive changes in these.”

Registration for the forum is open to anyone in the Pitt community as well as the general public. The full schedule of events is browsable after you register.

A forum with diverse elements

Workshops and keynotes are just one part of the week’s event.

Dozens of pieces of visual art and writing have been submitted to The Art of Diversity Showcase. Winners will be announced during the forum, but anyone can view the works at the gallery on OEDI’s website.

Additionally, the Center for Creativity will host an in-person event, “Sparking Change: An Evening with Friends,” on July 26 at the center’s new location in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning, B50. Taylor Waits, a PhD student in Pitt's Department of English, will perform at and emcee the program. 

The event, which was held online last year, will also be livestreamed and will feature light refreshments and several performances from engineering student Isaiah Spencer-Williams, who will perform spoken word; Singer Britney Yauger; slam poet Adriana Ramirez; and hip-hop songwriter and 1Hood educator Jordan Howard. There will also be an open mic element.


— Donovan Harrell