The United Minority Council’s Unity Month begins on Thursday with the theme, “Steps to Solidarity.” Throughout the month, each week is dedicated to a different step that minorities need to take in order to work together.
The first step is “Gaining identity,” which allows participants to share their own experiences and gives them a chance to reflect on their own identities.
“To understand solidarity and engage with others, you first need to engage with yourself,” UMC programming co-chair and College junior Maya Arthur said. “You need to find your identity.”
The second step is “building community,” where UMC members plan to encourage constituents to break out of the Penn-centric circle of influence.
“You not only need to build a community around yourself at Penn, but with the greater Philadelphia community,” Arthur said. UMC’s goal during the week is to show Penn students how they can interact with the West Philadelphia community in a way that is active and collaborative. The club will be working with Books Through Bars, a nonprofit that exchanges books and educational materials with prisoners.
The third step is “Make movements not moments,” which is focused on how to make social movements last, rather than trend for a few days and then disappear.
“Social justice and protests have become something that’s very fleeting,” UMC chair and Wharton senior Temilola Ransome-Kuti said. She emphasized that the problem is especially potent for millennials. “We are thinking about making them more long-term.”
UMC is also planning to build a wall of solidarity that symbolizes how minority communities are often locked in or pushed out of certain environments.
“It’s taking that idea and flipping it,” Ransome-Kuti said. “It can also represent cohesiveness, strength and solid structure. No matter what you throw at us, we stand together.”
Over three days, UMC will host discussions about major social movements including Black Lives Matter, protests against the Dakota Pipeline and transgender visibility. On the wall will be messages of encouragement and shared experiences.
UMC will also host an event with the Civic House following the presidential election, which is meant to give students a chance to discuss and reflect on what it’s like to vote as a person of color.
“The point is not to pick a side but to share other aspects of issues that weren’t shared in the media,” Arthur said.
The fourth step is “Mobilize."
“All three previous events can be related to mobilizing and coming together to take action,” Arthur said.
To wrap up the month of “Steps to Solidarity,” New York Daily News reporter Shaun King, who covers social justice issues, will come to campus to speak. King is known for his online activism and strong stance on civil rights issues.
“It’s a lot of work, but I’m really excited for it,” Arthur said.