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The Cloud: UMSI's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Newsletter - November Edition
What's in this Newsletter?
Only 1 more day until break!
To help you fill the time, we have some exciting DEI resources, opportunities, and updates. As always, if you have questions about anything in this newsletter do not hesitate to reach out to us!

Gif of Carlton Banks from the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air jumping up and down in excitement


I'm Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much | Ted Talk by Stella Young
Stella Young was a disability rights activist, among other roles who frequently discussed disability justice, the social model of disability, (Links to an external site), and disabled people as objects of inspiration from a critical lens. Stella Young helps to discuss disability culture, identity, and the ableism that people with disabilities experience in a variety of ways as they go about their daily life. Stella Young's Ted Talk is a popular video for Disability Studies courses and a great way to challenge how we all think about disability and accessibility. Her Ted Talk is 9 minutes long and has captions and transcripts available in 34 languages.
Opportunities to Learn More about Accessibility & Disability
SI 552 - Introduction to Accessibility (Typically Taught in the Fall Semester) -This class is an introduction to accessibility. Students will engage in discourse on several models of disability, be exposed to different types of assistive technologies, and apply what they learn to real-world accessibility and technology challenges.
Many of our faculty members at SI conduct research on accessibility. To learn more about them and their projects visit our Accessibility and Computing Research Area page. 
ARCH 609/EDUC 580/ENGLISH 528/KINESLGY 505/PMR 580/RACKHAM 580/SOC 580/SW 572 - Topics in Disability Study (Offered both Fall and Spring) - An interdisciplinary approach to disability studies, including focus on the arts and humanities, natural and social sciences, and professional schools.  Some topics include historical and cultural representation of disability, advocacy, health, rehabilitation, built environment, independent living, public policy.  Team taught with visiting speakers.  Accessible classroom with real-time captioning.
 The University of Michigan's Accessibility team creates helpful resources around accessibility. Some of their resources are linked below:


As part of this semester's coursework for SI 320/520: Graphic Design taught by Elena Godin and Vadim Besprozvany, students were challenged to submit original creative pieces for the DEI Summit's online showcase. The DEI Summit, hosted annually by the University of Michigan, highlights the progress the university has made over the previous year, the changes occurring across campus, and the opportunities for continued engagement with the Michigan community. This year's DEI Summit“Arts+Social Change: Building an Anti-Racist World through the Arts”, focused on the arts as a vehicle for social change and provided an opportunity for curricular integration and connection. 

Keeping this in mind, Elena and Vadim introduced students to the works of Luba Lukova, an American visual artist and designer, known for her thought-provoking images and expressive poster designs. Based on the lessons they learned from Luba's work, students were challenged to create their own pieces inspired by Luba while still keeping the focus on anti-racism.

Below are some of the works that students created. Next month's newsletter will also feature more works by students. 
Poster depicts monocles, on the left side of the monocle the word"Racism" is written. On the right side of the poster the text "Is in the I of the Beholder" is written.  Lillian Li, SI 520
Master of Science in Information

The Great Gatsby is a classic book taught in almost all high schools and praised for its critical depiction of the excesses of the Roaring '20s and class strati cation of U.S. society at the time. The novel, however, depicts only one portion of history, leaving out the surging racial anxiety of the time, which was so elevated that this was the same period that saw the rebirth of the Klu Klux Klan. This poster, borrowing the Art-Deco design of the era, as well as the iconic Great Gatsby book cover, is meant to address the whitewashing of American history in our canonical texts, and the blind eye white novelists at the time turned to the deep unrest and cruelty occurring on American streets. It's a reminder that racism may appear to be in the "eye of the beholder," as some claim today when they believe that people are purposefully "seeing race everywhere." In fact, our ability to grapple with the racism inherent in our society is really in the "I," the person's own bounded awareness and life circumstances that allow them to create a narrative where race does not exist.
Poster depicts two intersecting side profiles with the text "Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until its faced" - James Baldwin written underneath the graphic of the side profiles.
Caitlyn Zawideh, SI 320
Bachelor of Science in Information
Poster depicts a clenched fist that is made up of different icons like doves, worlds, and megaphones. Underneath the words "Black Lives Matter" is written.
Alyssa Spickermann, SI 520
Master of Science in Design Science
Taylor Pessetti, SI 320
Bachelor of Science in Information
Poster is black with the the words "Redline Racism" written on it in white. The word "Racism" is outlined in a red box.
Benjamin M. Roth, SI 520
Master of Science in Information


Whether you are facing any DEI related issues or would like to discuss funding opportunities the DEIO office is here for you. Every week Judy, Devon, and Chris hold office to connect with members of UMSI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office. You can sign-up for office hours by visiting our DEIO Appointment Calendar


Do you want to host a DEI-related speaker, attend virtual conferences, seminars, workshops etc., or start a project at UMSI?  Well, these events could be funded by UMSI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office and DEI Committee! To learn more about the process please visit our DEI Funding page. 


If you are part of a group (formal or informal) that is interested in connecting with the DEI Committee directly, please reach out to the co-chairs or any DEI committee member to schedule a time to connect. Individuals may also reach out directly. Below is a potentially helpful structure for discussion preparation - though all comments are welcome.
  • Overview of the group who is speaking and goals
  • Summary of what’s worked well
  • Summary of key concerns
  • Guidelines/proposal for the committee
  • How involved might you want to be in follow up? What are your hopes and expectations? (just to let us know, or work with us, the opportunity to circle back, etc?)
To contact the co-chairs please email

Or you may reach out to the co-chairs individually at:


The DEI Committee will be hosting a Community Meeting on Wednesday, December 9th from 12:00 - 1:00 to provide updates on their work. During this event, there will also be an opportunity to join breakout rooms with Committee Members to ask more specific questions. We will be sending out email reminders as we get closer to the event.


Each month the DEI Committee Chairs will be answering questions submitted by members of the UMSI Community in the Cloud. To submit any questions that you may have please fill out the DEI Committee's Anonymous Feedback Form

This Month's Q+A

Q: How do we engage in difficult-to-discuss topics?

ADiscussing race can be difficult for some and might increase discomfort among those involved in the conversation. The DEI committee is working to bring in experts who can help us engage in these topics. In the meantime, we are sharing our own “Invitations for Engagement” which we agreed on as a committee. We invite you to start with similar guidelines for your classroom, book club (similar guidelines are used in our Race+Tech group), or other meetings in general, but particularly for discussing controversial topics.

Some of our Invitations for Engagement are listed below, the full list can be found on our Invitations for Engagement document.
Understand that your words have effects on others. Speak with care. If you learn that something you’ve said was experienced as disrespectful or marginalizing, listen carefully and try to understand that perspective. Recognize that impact and intention are not the same and reflect on the impact of our actions or words. Step back and listen when we are being told that the impact of our actions is out of step with our intents or our perceptions of self. Apologize and learn how you can do better in the future.  
Notice your own defensive reactions and attempt to use these reactions as entry points for gaining deeper self-knowledge, rather than as a rationale for closing off. Whenever you think, I already know this, ask yourself, How can I take this deeper? Or, How am I applying in practice what I already know?
Be open to changing your perspectives. Think critically about the factors that have shaped your perspectives. Seriously consider points-of-view that differ from your current thinking. Hold your opinions lightly and with humility. 


The UMSI DEI Committee is excited to have the opportunity to send 10 members of the UMSI community to the ERACCE Introduction to Systemic Racism Workshop, Jan. 13-14, 2021, from 1-4 pm each day.

The workshop focuses on “the development of a common language necessary for having productive conversations about race and systemic racism,” having productive conversations about race and systemic racism, interrupting systemic racism, and providing “open access to all people in our institutions.”

The following slots are available:
  • 2 slots to faculty
  • 2 slots to staff
  • 5 slots to students - one from each program
Interested parties should submit 2-3 sentences to the ERACCE Conference Attendance Submission Form with their interest in attending to ensure alignment with the conference goals. Those submissions that are aligned will be put into a lottery for the slots.

To be considered for a slot please submit your form by Monday, November 30 at 9:00 am EST.


There are blue, white, and pink leaves representing the trans flag colors on the top left corner. The image has a photo of Kama smiling while wearing a yellow top and yellow dangling earrings. There is Kama's bio on the graphic that can also be found at or at @KamaLaMackerel on Instagram. The event is on Nov. 19th at 6:00 pm EST and registrations are at The bottom of the image has the Spectrum Center logo and Transgender Awareness Week 2020
November 19 - Transgender Awareness Week Keynote Speaker: Kama La Mackerel.
This year, the Spectrum Center is inviting Kama La Mackerel​, a multiracial trans artist based in Montreal, QB. Their work is grounded in the exploration of justice, love, healing, decoloniality and self, and collective-empowerment. Kama’s artistic practice spans across textile, visual, poetic, digital, and performative work; their work is at once narratological and theoretical, at once personal and political. They will be highlighting their most recent work, ZOM-FAM. To register please visit the Spectrum Center's Event Page
Virtual Conference: Gender, Women’s Suffrage, and Political Power: Past, Present, and Future will be held from November 18-21
November 18-21 - Gender, Women’s Suffrage, and Political Power: Past, Present, and Future Conference
The Gender, Women’s Suffrage, and Political Power: Past, Present, and Future (GWSPP) conference is a multi-day virtual meeting that brings together academics and activists to explore the critical history of women’s suffrage and political power, and the future possibilities for expanding gender equity in political participation and representation in the United States and across the globe. Register for the event on Eventbrite.
Film Southasia Poster depicting a man holding a camera. Accompanying text says Where the mind is free.
November 20: CSAS 2020 Film Series | Travelling Film South Asia
During the Fall Term, CSAS will make the documentaries from the 2020 Film South Asia film festival available to our community. Please register on CSAS's Google Form.

November 20th Films:
Janani’s Juliet by Pankaj Rishi Kumar, India, 53 mins + Memoirs of Saira and Salim by Eshwarya Grover, India, 14 mins + And What is the Summer Saying by Payal Kapadia, India, 23 mins
Photo of Manu Platt looking up to the right wearing a blue shirt.
December 1: Gaslighting in the Academy: Will Black Lives Continue to Matter?
Professor Platt will uncover micro- to mega- activities that occur on a daily basis to sustain racial inequities, the toll it takes on recipients, and then suggest changes to be made from the personal to institutional level to promote anti-racist practices to transform the academic culture.

Presented by Manu Platt, Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology

To register please visit formstack
John Lewis Good Trouble Poster depicting John Lewis
Free Screening: John Lewis: Good Trouble. 
An intimate account of legendary U.S. Representative John Lewis’ life, legacy, and more than 60 years of extraordinary activism — from the bold teenager on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement to the legislative powerhouse he was throughout his career. 

To get your tickers register online at Events at Michigan. Once you register, you will be sent a viewing link which will be active for 72 hours upon first access. Viewing access available expires at midnight on 12/17/20. 


Have a story or event that you would like to be featured in The Cloud? Have feedback or suggestions on our content? If so, email Chris Kurien, the DEI Graduate Student Staff Assistant at
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