MLK Day Recap: ‘What We Mean When We Say’ Video Project Premiere and Discussion

The “What We Mean When We Say: Video Project Premiere and Discussion” started off by inviting workshop participants to view the first installment of the Bates Communications Office’s proposed video series, What We Mean When We Say. The video series featured a number of Bates staff, students and faculty members discussing often-used but frequently misunderstood language related to equity and inclusion, such as “bias,” “privilege” and “antiracist.” 

After the viewing, Director of Photography and Video Phyllis Graber Jensen and Director of Design Services Grace Kendall facilitated a conversation to encourage members of the Bates community to talk, engage with and own topics of discomfort. For example, Kendall made some meaningful statements about the history and norms behind higher education. She discussed how it can be quite seamless for certain members to fit into the hierarchical nature of academic institutions, while those same spaces can be oppressive and harmful for other members of the community. 

After an initial group discussion, participants were split into breakout rooms consisting of about six to seven members. In the breakout rooms, participants grappled with the question, what does decolonization mean at Bates? Members discussed a wide range of answers, spanning from de-centering white, Eurocentric norms that guide our way of thinking and our behaviors to discussing the community-wide sense of fatigue that is overtaking people in our community who are victims of this colonized space. 

After the breakout rooms, everyone returned to the main discussion room to converse about the topics that were brought up in each of the breakout rooms.