Important lessons on discrimination and forgiveness from Women’s Studies

The Women’s Studies Program hosted ‘Healing Journeys: Gender, Sexuality and Forgiveness,’ a panel addressing issues involving discrimination and forgiveness, at the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability on campus, Nov. 3.

Linda Markowitz, chair of the program, and professor of sociology and criminal justice studies, helped to organize the event.

“There were three panelists who gave their forgiveness stories,” said Markowitz. “They talked about some of the incidents they’ve experienced with discrimination and how they’ve come to forgive those people who have physically harmed them or taken away their jobs or opportunities because of their race, gender or sexual orientation.”

The ‘forgiveness stories’ came from Ann Taylor, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the SIUE School of Education; Aminata Cairo, assistant professor of anthropology; and Sayer Johnson, a member of the local community. Ryan Wagner, of Community Acupuncture in St. Louis, led a workshop on forgiveness following the presentations from panelists.

The audience of about 20 students and faculty members were moved by compelling stories of personal triumph over discrimination and lessons on how each speaker learned to forgive and not internalize their struggles. Messages that discrimination is unacceptable also resounded.

“I think it was very powerful for people in the audience to hear about contemporary experiences with racism, homophobia and ‘transgender-ism,’” said Markowitz. “It was very compelling for the audience to hear that there are still incidents of racism that people experience.”

The ‘Healing Journeys: Gender, Sexuality and Forgiveness’ panel is just one of several events, tackling critical issues, that Women’s Studies has hosted this fall.

Next is a presentation Nov. 11 from 2  to 3:15 p.m. in Peck Hall, titled ‘Sexual Assault on College Campuses,” featuring speaker Traice Webb, psychologist in SIUE  counseling services.

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