By Aaron Tooyak
On February 1st and 2nd I had the privilege of attending the Racial Equity Summit hosted by First Alaskans Institute (FAI) at the Egan Center. The main room held a wealth of wisdom and knowledge from dedicated leaders of all walks of life and professions in the racial equity movement. The event was free for elders and students and that made my participation possible.
Among the keynote speakers advocating for racial equity were mother-daughter educators for indigenous knowledge systems, Panigkaq Agatha John-Shields & Piiyuuk Olivia Shields, Filipino community activist, scholar, and author EJ R. David, comedic sketch and satire group “1491s”, activist for New Zealand peoples Kate Cherrington, prominent anti-racist author and educator Tim Wise, attorney and artist Gyasi Ross, and New York based blogger and radio host Jay Smooth, to name a few.
FAI’s Alaska Native Policy Center planted their racial equity project in 2010, which stemmed into a larger social impact project called “Advancing Native Dialogues On Racial Equity” (ANDORE).
Here’s a visual to gain further insight into how multipronged the project is.
The event offered an intimate view of what it is like to be on the receiving end of social injustice and domestic violence, and gave insight into the challenges and overall lifestyle and career of a racial equality advocate. Conversations held from the tables, panels, and podium each pointed to the need to heighten awareness on racial inequality and offered solutions to heal these issues through conversation, engagement to create allies, and policy changes. It left me with plenty to think about and greatly appreciative to FAI and APU for the opportunity to attend.