The Honors College kicked off the 2016 Star Lecture series with Doris Fields. The first installment in the series was titled “A Well Lived Life: Improving race relations on campus, within the community and in workplace.”
This lecture filled the Halle Library Auditorium with Honors college students along with students of Fields, to hear her enthusiastic perspective on learning about and improving race relations.
This lecture was an extension of the MLK Day celebration, starting and ending the lecture with Dr. King quotes.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” This is a favorite quote of Fields said by Dr. King that lead into her lecture.
She inspired the audience to have a “frank and honest conversation about race.”
“I don’t want my children to experience what I have experienced, I go into the classroom everyday with this in mind,” Fields said. “It brings me more joy than anything else to teach race relations.”
Fields laid out issues that college campuses, including Eastern Michigan University’s campus, have with race relations. Issues included fear of speaking to strangers that don’t look like you, lack of respect and racial intimidation and miscommunications.
“Stop intimidating and hurting people that are on the same path as you,” Fields proclaimed. “We are all here to get an education.”
Respect was a major topic not only for the lecture, but something Fields takes very seriously in her classroom.
The audience engaged in a conversation with the people sitting next to them and defined respect and explained how it felt to be respected and to be disrespected.
“When we talked about respect with our neighbors, I knew this lecture was going to be really fun and engaging,” Angie Thompson, a sophomore majoring in political science, said.
“Creating a positive environment in the community takes work,” Fields said. Participating in diverse events and volunteering are two main ways that were highlighted in the lecture to help build a strong diverse community.
“Service is the price we pay for living on this earth,” Fields said.
“I never heard anyone refer to diverse work relations as being ‘color brave,’ that is the best thing she said all night,” Duncan Walker, a senior biology major, said.
Fields talked about being “color brave,” a term she heard in a TED talk.
“Being ‘color brave’ is believing that race is not a job qualifier,” Fields said.
Continuing the conversation about the workplace, Fields touched on how the student body, specifically at Eastern, is growing more diverse but the faculty is not.
Bringing the lecture to a close, Fields said, “20 years from now I don’t want to still be talking about race, by then I will be an angry old woman.”
“I love Dr. Fields, she inspires me so much to do better as a person of privilege, to check my privilege, and to be part of the solution to create better race relations,” junior English major Jessica Hobbs said.
The next Star Lecture, “Leadership is a Choice” will be Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. in Halle Library.