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A Mile in Our Shoes discusses familial diversity at virtual MLK week event


Students discussed familial relationships to showcase diverse families during the virtual event "A Family Affair: Into the Diverse Lives of Families."

As apart of Central Michigan University's Martin Luther King Jr. week, Registered Student Organization (RSO) A Miles in Our Shoes hosted the event "A Family Affair: Into the Diverse Lives of Families" on Jan. 21. 

A Mile in Our Shoes wanted to be able to participate in MLK week, so they created this event to both honor his vision and openly discuss its community's diversity within families. The RSO was inspired to do this event by the diversity of its own members. Due to the pandemic, the organization had to delay its usual simulation event. 

The virtual event was formatted as an open discussion about diverse families and their unique backgrounds. 

A Mile in Our Shoes opened the discussion for anyone to talk about their families and their experiences within their families. The executive board members kicked off the event by introducing themselves and talking about their own family experiences.

Senior Abdullah Assaf, A Mile in Our Shoes' Student Government Association representative, said there are two types of family; family by blood and family by heart.

"Family is having someone to love you unconditionally, in spite of you and your shortcomings," Assaf said.

A Mile in Our Shoes President Kayla Kelly shared a series of questions for the attendees from her screen. The questions focused on what makes a person's family diverse and how backgrounds shape identities. The event also asked its attendees how they can educate their families on diverse issues and how they can support others despite different backgrounds.

"All of this diversity starts in your own household, and if you're not able to address the issues that you have in your own household, you're not going to be able to be accepting of anybody else's backgrounds," Kayla Kelly said.

Kelly touched on 'Cancel Culture' as well during the event. She said a lot of people are still learning about diversity and about what is no longer acceptable to say. A big part of supporting someone is allowing them to educate and better themselves.

"It's okay to allow people the chance to learn and to grow and to want to be better for themselves and society," Kelly said. "People are quick to cancel someone for making a mistake, and we don't ever allow them the chance to grow, so then they become defensive. They never actually learned, they just continue to do what they were doing before." 

A Mile in Our Shoes said a good way to educate others on diversity and diverse issues is to bring it up when possible, creating a conversation around it makes the topic less daunting and allows others to freely talk about their experiences.

The RSO will be hosting their annual event "A Tunnel of Oppression" in April as well as other events later this semester.