By Maddy Longwell
More than 70 students, faculty and staff from the Simmons community gathered on Wednesday, Sept. 7 to welcome Dr. Shakti Butler, the first Friar’s Leaders speaker of the new year.
Each academic year, the Friar’s Leaders program brings speakers to the Simmons campus to discuss and “reflect the many different styles of leadership” from a variety of academic disciplines.
Before her talk on Wednesday, Dr. Butler had spent the week working with first-year students and student leaders. Butler is a filmmaker and the founder and president of World Trust, a “non-profit social justice organization that provides deep learning, tools and resources for people interested in tackling unconscious bias and systemic racial inequity in their workplace, community and in their lives.”
Before beginning her speech, Butler was welcomed by Lisa Smith-McQueenie, assistant to the Provost for diversity and inclusion.
“She’s a really good hugger,” McQueenie noted.
During her talk, Butler addressed systemic racism and racialization. She explained that an essential step in addressing these issues comes from understanding and fixing systems that keep such issues in place. Butler illustrated this point when she discussed the boarding schools many Native American children were taken to during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
By the time Butler had finished the first portion of her talk, the hour-long time slot she was given had run out. However, much of her captive audience remained long after to hear Butler discuss a major component of her work. Butler encouraged audience participation as she introduced the idea of strategic questioning.
The next Friar’s Leaders speaker will be Janaya Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. Khan will speak on Wednesday, Oct. 5.