Bringing Diversity Education to OC

Courtney Cass

On June 23 and 24, Olympic College held its third annual diversity conference. The conference is meant to help participants network and build relationships with other people, while also teaching and improving their skills in diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

The two-day event hosted classes around campus that focused on education and skills development, identity and personal development, the arts, leadership development, and social justice and activism.

There were two keynote speakers, Rosa Clemente and Michael Tun'cap. The conference’s planning committee consisted of Teresa Jones, David Emmons, Athena Prado Higgins, Jodie Collins, Amanda Gebhardt-Fuentes, James Estrella, Sam Morgan, Shaylynn Houston, Debra Montez, Cheryl Nunez, and Damon Bell. All of these people worked very hard to put on such a great conference.

The conference kicked off on the morning of the June 23 with breakfast, introductions, and opening keynote speech from speaker Rosa Clemente. Clemente, a graduate of University of Albany and Cornell University, and a current doctoral student in the W.E.B. Dubois department of UMASS-Amherst, is dedicated to scholar activism.

Clemente is Black-Puerto Rican and is the founder and president of Know Thy Self Productions, which produces community activist tours about issues such as Hip-Hop activism, media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third party politics, and more.

In the 2008 presidential election, Clemente was the vice presidential candidate for the Green Party. She and Green Party presidential candidate, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, were the first women of color ticket in U.S. history. Her speech, “If I Was President: Addressing the Intersections of Power, Oppression, Identity and Politics in the Black Lives Matter Age,” was about the upcoming election, politics, and racial justice in the United States.

After Clemente’s speech, sessions began. The topics of these sessions ranged from equitable education to needs of military-connected students in college to a tribute and open forum about the shooting in Orlando, the politics related to it, and Latinx lives.

The evening ended with dinner and closing keynote speech from the other speaker, Michael Tun’cap. Tun’cap was raised in Tacoma and graduated from UW Seattle with degrees in communications & political science and graduated with his master’s in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley.

In 2000, Tun’cap was the founding director of the Pacific Islander Student Commission at UW Seattle and cofounder of the PIONEER outreach program in 2001. His speech was “Warriors Work Together: Lessons From SSGT,” which was about exploring the challenges of men of color in public education.

June 24 had more classes on topics such as self-efficacy, supporting veterans in transition, and Muslim and Middle Eastern stereotypes. The diversity conference was a great conference and anyone who is interested in learning more about diversity and social justice should definitely make it a point to attend the next one.