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Abstract

This paper utilizes Rochester, NY, as a case study to argue that approaching race intersectionally and across disciplines creates a stronger model of feminist pedagogy. It is based on our work in the classroom and on the Fisher Race Initiatives—a series of three interactive workshops we created on our campus to create change in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, and in the subsequent rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Our goals were to promote dialogue on race, to expose participants to factual information on race, and to emphasize the intersectional causes of poverty in the Rochester region. We use the framework of Gunnar Myrdal’s vicious circle theory about the perpetual cycle of black poverty and white racism to present how racism engenders and promulgates economic inequity, and we describe that framework here in the context of the Rochester region. We look at historical and current examples in the housing and education markets as specific examples of institutionalized racism and how it perpetuates the cycle of poverty. We conclude our paper by reflecting on how this intersectional interdisciplinary approach provides valuable lessons for faculty and students on diminishing unaware/unintentional racism and white privilege and promoting a more equitable campus committed to social justice.

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