The Michigan Times

Women’s Education Center to host “Shop Talk” discussion

Alexis Harvey

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The Shop Talk discussion this week will give students, faculty, staff and community members a forum to voice their opinions about the various “isms” facing Americans today.

The Women’s Educational Center will be hosting UM-Flint’s first Shop Talk on Thursday Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. The event is meant to bring members of the campus community and Flint community together for a dialogue about the language of prejudice and discrimination.

The first part of Shop Talk will discuss three specific “isms”: ageism, racism and classism. Audience members and moderators will define these terms and discuss how they have affected their lives. The second half of the discussion will focus on the relationship between these issues and the penal system.

“With questions about police brutality, and questions about race, we thought it was important to tie those ‘isms’ back to that really core thing that’s been going on and [that] people have been talking about,” said Dr. Erica Britt, assistant professor in the linguistics program in the English department. Britt will moderate the event alongside Dr. Traci Currie of the communications department.

The panel will include UM-Flint faculty as well as activists from Flint and across the nation. Randy Brown of Georgia, the creator of this format of discussion, will be included in the panel. During his time at the University of Arkansas, Brown developed an open forum called the Barbershop. These events would feature open, frank discussions while people were literally getting their hair cut.

“When you walk into a barbershop what happens? You hear all kinds of dialogue and there is no censoring. All kinds of conversations are taking place and people are loud, and they’re boisterous, and they’re funny. Anything goes.” said Currie “That’s the concept, but we couldn’t call it the Barbershop… So let’s call it ‘Shop Talk’ and remove the notion of hair.”

Pastor Linda Manson of Philadelphia will also be featured on the panel. She works to educate those who are or have been formally incarcerated within the Pennsylvania penal system.

Two panelists from Flint are local activist Dawn Demps, whose work focuses on the School to Prison Pipeline, and Flint-born sociology professor Kalvin Harvell of Henry Ford College in Dearborn. His talk will focus heavily on the topic of “isms” and their effect on society.

Though each panelist has a topic that they may specialize in, they will not be limited to that subject.

For more information, visit The Women’s Educational Center located on the second floor of the University Center.

Alexis Harvey may be contacted at [email protected]

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Women’s Education Center to host “Shop Talk” discussion