The Hilliard Art Museum is hosting an antiracist education series, featuring weekly talks by guest speakers about resisting racism and white supremacy, especially from the perspective of educators and future educators.

The series runs from Sept. 12 to Oct. 3, with a new speaker every Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:30pm in the Hilliard Art Museum. The talks will also be recorded by Acadiana Open Channel and made available at a later date.

Organized by Dr. Callie Smith, the museum educator at the Hilliard, this series focuses on antiracism, and how educators in particular can practice antiracism throughout their career.

“Especially thinking about educators, do you have certain stereotypes that we carry with us when we look at students from different racial backgrounds? And how can that impact the ways that, as teachers, that we treat them, the way that we grade them, the way that we view their life stories and ourselves,” Smith said.

The speakers for the series are educators or former educators who belong to a disenfranchised or oppressed group, who are coming to share their experiences and speak on racism and injustice. According to Smith, one of the main goals is to expose students, especially education majors, to different perspectives.

“You’re hearing other people’s experiences and their stories, and you learn so much,” Smith said. “Even though the context is really awful and deadly as we see, there can be a lot of joy had in trying to, even in small ways, to show up and have conversations and work towards the good.”

Smith spoke on why antiracism is so important, especially for those in the education field. She stressed how vital it is for educators to be aware of the lens they view the world through, of biases that they have and how those biases might cause harm to their students.

With educators often interacting with students in their very formative years, the impact they have can be lifelong, and it’s crucial for that impact to be a positive one, rather than a negative one.

“We often think of education as being a positive thing, right? To teach is touch a life forever, and that can be true for good and for ill,” Smith said.

Though educators are a target audience of the talk, Smith shared that everyone is welcome and likely to take something away from these talks.

“On some level, we are all educating others, whether that’s in the form of a sibling, a friend, a parent, a co-worker,” Smith said.

She added that educating others and actively trying to make spaces safer and more accepting of people of different identities and backgrounds is one of the key ways to practice antiracism.

Smith stated that it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in the world, but also to be aware of the media you consume and what biases might be held in that. Moving beyond that, antiracism can take the form of involvement in your community.

“Being a part of your community, seeing who’s running for office, and by extension the national elections. And advocate for people who are from oppressed groups, like if there’s a certain way that any of us can help create opportunities or support their dreams and career paths, that’s an excellent option as well.”

One of the speakers for the series is Faryal Atif, a graduate student pursuing her MA in English, and also serves as the president of the university’s International Student Council and the vice president and advocacy chair of the Graduate Student Organization. Her talk will focus on her perspective as a member of Lafayette’s Muslim community, and as an immigrant to America.

When Atif had first come to the university, the International Student Council wasn’t very active, but she saw the potential in it to help make international students feel welcome on campus.

“I realized that this is such a great platform for students to just make them feel like this is your place, this campus is as much yours as anyone else,” Atif said. “You are included, you can participate in everything. You bring a lot with you and you have a lot to give back to the community sharing your experiences, your culture.”

Atif also spoke on how one of her neighbors had remarked that she was the nicest Muslim she’d ever met, before revealing that she’d never actually met another Muslim before.

“I thought it’s interesting, people really don’t have exposure, and to me it was so funny that she already had this preconceived notion about Muslims,” Atif said.

Adding to that, she expressed the importance for people of different cultures and communities to open themselves up and not be afraid to represent their group.

“You are the best representative of your culture and community and religion and whatever and you have to just go out there, let people know, open yourself,” Atif said.

Speaking on how others can practice antiracism, Atif shared that the most important thing was to make others feel welcomed, safe and included.

“Just be an ally, just be a place where people feel welcome,” Atif said.