December 1, 2020

Forum Reveals Reality of Racial Issues at UMW

Mary Washington’s U.S. Race & Reality Forum, an eight-week, one-credit forum, covered topics like common myths about race, privilege and fragility, Confederate monuments and identity, and policing and incarceration.

Mary Washington’s U.S. Race & Reality Forum, an eight-week, one-credit forum, covered topics like common myths about race, privilege and fragility, Confederate monuments and identity, and policing and incarceration.

Do you have to be a person of color to be offended by a racial epithet?

No, according to Alexandra Polymeropoulos, a junior at the University of Mary Washington. During a lively discussion Wednesday evening in a session of UMW’s U.S. Race & Reality Forum, Polymeropoulos said she is riled every time she hears such language. And, she added, being white makes it hard to convince peers of how much it bothers her.

You have to build up “a wall of steel,” offered classmate Andrew Schneidawind, one of more than 150 Mary Washington students who enrolled in the course.

Candor, frustration, hopefulness, ardor – all were on display during a Zoom session of this specially designed eight-week, one-credit race forum, which was sparked by the murder in late May of George Floyd.

The sessions featured UMW faculty and staff, as well as speakers from outside the university. “We wanted to offer some conventional academic knowledge, but also make it possible for students to hear directly from individuals involved in making change,” said one of the co-facilitators, Associate Professor of Anthropology Jason James. Read more.

About Anna Billingsley

Anna B. Billingsley, associate vice president for university relations, has worked at UMW since 2004.