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January 22, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 5A

From Page 1A
aftermath of the Sandy Hook
elementary school massacre
requires an immediate re-evalua-
tion of the core values and moral
compass of the nation.
"Itis no longer a choice between
non-violence and violence in this
world; it is non-violence or non-
existence," Jones said, paraphras-
ing King's words to address to the
December shooting in Newtown,
He then mentioned that con-
tinuing King's legacy of non-vio-
lence may be the most difficult
duty he gave the nation. He spoke
of gun violence being a critical
issue facing the nation's youths in
"What we (give) and what our
world gives our youth today is vio-
lence," Jones said.
Jones also spoke at length
about the way in which some peo-
ple and institutions debase the
memory of King by distorting the

meaning and content if his teach-
ings and speeches by fitting his
views to their own agendas. He
accused the National Rifle Asso-
ciation, of which such manipula-
tions - the group is holding a gun
appreciation day during the week
commemorating the 84th birth-
day of King.
In addition, Jones said without
the collective work of those who
transformed the United States
politically through the Civil
Rights Movement, Obama's 2008
election wouldn't be possible. He
ended his speech in noting that
he is frequently asked whom he
thinks is most like Martin Luther
King Jr. today.
"I answer them by asking a
rhetorical question: Who today
is most like Michelangelo?"
Jones said. "Who today is most
like Beethoven? Galileo? Shake-
speare? No one."
LSA sophomore Cecilia
Dumouchel and LSA senior
Andrew Kalenkiewicz both
decided to come to the event
because of the personal connec-

tion Jones had with King. They
commented positively about
Jones' incorporation of recent,
real-life events and gun-violence
commentary into his speech.
"I was totally mesmer-
ized through the entire thing,"
Dumouchel said. "I think the way
that he applied these notions of
the past in such a real and vibrant
way to these immense issues we
have today was kind of refresh-
They both agreed that Martin
Luther King Jr. Day was a time for
reflection on what race and dis-
crimination issues still remain in
U.S. society.
"It's a day to sit back and reflect
on partially the problems that our
nation has faced and how those
problems how they manifested
themselves in the past and how
they manifest themselves today,"
Kalenkiewicz said, "And also
it serves as a reminder for how
much of an impact an individual
can have on society, everything
that can be achieved by one great

From Page 1A
Davis acknowledged that
this particular Martin Luther
King Jr. Day was one that was
endowed with heavy symbol-
ism because it fell on the second
inauguration of the first black
president and occurred 150 years
after the Emancipation Procla-
Having served 18 months
in prison, Davis said she is
particularly invested in the
understanding of the prison
industrial complex's roots in rac-
ism and the rapid privatization
of the expanding incarcerated
"When you look at the emer-
gence of prisons," Davis said, "(it
is) very much connected to (the)
development of the capitalist
system and the development of
Davis said a U.S. inmate popu-
lation of 2.5 million has created a
prison system with gross inequi-
ties like a disproportionally large
population of black prisoners.
"Prison is an institution
that devours people who have
become part of a surplus popula-
tion," Davis said. "It allows you
to ignore the problems that put
those individuals in that position
in the first place."
Davis noted that, despite hav-
ing a black president, racism
remains ingrained in the fabric

of U.S. society. She added that
racism and other injustices in
the United States have led her to
question the capitalist economic
"What this means is that we
have a lot of work to do with
respect to rooting out racism in
this country," Davis said. "We
have got to begin to ask about the
whole society."
Students Organizing Against
Prisons, a group that advocates
against the prison-industrial
complex, was one of the many
groups that worked to bring
Davis to the University.
Alex Kulick, SOAP mem-
ber and LSA senior, said he was
excited to see students come out
to see Davis speak and engage in
a conversation about race.
"(She) is one of those speak-
ers and thinkers who can hold
us accountable to what (this con-
versation) really means," Kulick
said. "(She makes us) progress
forward and radically question
our assumptions about societ-
Kulick said Davis has inspired
his work with SOAP.
"Her work has really com-
bined everything that we stand
for as student activists," Kulick
said. "(She) really bring(s) a crit-
ical lens to activism."
LSA sophomore Christiana
Allen echoed Kulick's senti-
"We need to really work on
(these) problems so that we can

become better as a whole in
America," Allen said.
Darlene Nichols, the Univer-
sity librarian for Diversity Ini-
tiatives and Programs, worked
on one of the committees that
helped bring Davis to campus.
She said Davis's positions made
her an attractive speaker for the
Martin Luther King, Jr. sympo-
,"(It is important) to bring
someone who is thought-pro-
voking, who can get the commu-
nity motivated and energized,"
Nichols said.
Nichols said she remembers
growing up when Davis was
an important figure in the civil
rights community. For her,
Davis was an important sub-
ject of conversation during her
"This is really an incredible
moment to bring my childhood
into the present and meet some-
one who is so prominent in my
memory and my history of black
social movements," Nichols
Nichols added that she was
proud of students' attendance of
the event.
"Seeing young 'people still
engaged and interested and
wanting to hear and learn more
about what is going in the world
... it is why we are here," Nichols
-Hillary Crawford
contributed to this report.

Open-mindedness topic
of convocation remarks

Robbins says
sterotypes emerge
from daily life
Daily StaffReporter
Students, faculty, staff and
members of the public gathered
on Monday in Rackham Audito-
rium for the- 2013 Business and
Finance Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day Convocation, "Imagine the
Possibilities. What if?"
Steve Robbins, the keynote
speaker for the event, immigrat-
ed to the United States in 1970
with his mother to escape the
perils and upheaval of war-torn
Vietnam. After suffering from
racial discrimination,. Robbins
now speaks publicly about the
challenges and benefitbof build-
ing a more open-minded society.
"We've 'been addressing
something we thought was the
problem (close-mindedness) and
we haven't gotten very far," Rob-
bins said. "Diversity is not the
problem - closed-mindedness
Robbins said implicit preju-
dice is the main challenge fac-
ing the current generation of
Americans. Although many
people do not actively attempt to
be closed-minded, stereotypes
emerge through both media and
daily interactions.
"All we have to do is live in
an environment that gives us
limited narrow messages about
people," Robbins said. "Our
brain absorbs those messages
and creates mental models for
us ... in the same way it absorbs
lyrics to a song."
Robbins argued that much of
the closed-mindedness preva-
lent in society stems from
human's natural, cautious reac-

tion to unknown situations or
"That mechanism is still
inside us today," Robbins said.
"Long ago it was about physi-
cal safety; today it is more about
emotional comfort."
"Once your brain locks onto a
pattern, it basically stops criti-
cally thinking. It lets the pat-
tern's momentum take it to the
next step," Robbins said. "You
will take very little information
about people and your brain
will form a pattern for you and
use that pattern to submit quick
assessments and judgments."
While these quick judgments
were useful when trying to avoid
predators, Robbins questioned
the impact on modern society.
Snap judgments can be harmful
toward certain groups.
Robbins approaches many
of his studies from both a sci-
entific and social perspective.
While he obtained his doctorate
in communications, much of his
current research includes the
biology involved in the brain's
decision-making processes.
Although the brain accounts
for only two percent of the
body's mass, it consumes almost
20 percent of the body's total
energy, Robbins said. This ener-
gy consumption is increased
when the brain is exposed to
unfamiliar stimuli. In these sit-
uations, the brain experiences
cognitive dissonance.
"When we get into a state of
cognitive dissonance or cogni-
tive discomfort, we want to get
out of it very quickly - we're
motivated to get out of it very
quickly," Robbins said.
When someone is put into a
new situation, his or her brain
is given two options: accept or
reject. Although acceptance can
make others feel much more
included and welcome, Robbins

noted that people do not tend to
react in this manner.
"Blocking - being closed-
minded - is a great way to get
rid of our dissonance, but (it's
not) a very good way to learn,"
Robbins said.
Robbins concluded his presen-
tation by attempting to motivate
the audience to seek change in
their own communities, specifi-
cally calling on them to be more
open to accepting outsiders.
"Fundamentally, for me, this
work is about caring for people,
and the true measure about
whether you are a caring person
is not how well you can care for
your friends ... but how well you
care for strangers and outsiders,"
Robbins said.
"Be a path-maker, not a path-
The event was organized
by the, Business and finange
Diversity Committee and co-
sponsored by several Univer-
sity departments and groups.
Tim Slottow, the University's
executive vice president and
chief financial officer, discussed
the University's involvement in
this event during his opening
"Our commitment is not just to
hold this single event each year.
In fact, it is an ongoing commit-
ment to organizational action, to
education, to awareness rising
and to celebration," Slottow said.
"Respect for diversity is one of
our eight organizational values."
LSA sophomore Andrew Ste-
vens said he found Robbins's
personal story and theories
"I made sure to look around at
all the events that were going on
around campus today because it
only happens once a year," Ste-
vens said. "You might as well
get out and see something that
might change your mind."


Graduate students from the Architecture school are changing bus stops to "bus spots" by constructing different
installations on Saturday.


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