Day of metanoia to focus on racism and white supremacy in America

On Monday September 18, students held a rally outside of the ROWE Center for Undergraduate Education to discuss DACA. (Alexis Taylor/The Daily Campus)

“Together: Confronting Racism” has been designated as the theme of the upcoming Day of Metanoia’s events for Wednesday Nov. 8, according to the University of Connecticut website.

“While this topic was proposed in direct response to the recent outbursts of violent white supremacy epitomized by the events in Charlottesville, a review of the history of prior metanoia at UConn reveals that the subject of race and racism has been a perennial one at our university, as it has been in our nation,” President Susan Herbst said in an email to all students.

Glenn Mitoma, Director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and co-chair of the “Together: Confronting Racism” Day of Metanoia, said that instead of focusing on race relations, the Day of Metanoia will focus more specifically on racism in America.

“The committee felt that calling it ‘race relations’ leaves out this dynamic that we’ve seen very prominently come to the fore over the past year of assertions of power and white supremacy, most clearly in places like Charlottesville,” Mitoma said.

Although Mitoma said the date, marking a year since the presidential election, was a coincidence, he said the focus on racism and white supremacy is not.

“Living in the United States in 2017, if you’re not feeling like racism is an issue that touches your life, I would encourage you to essentially reach out and think about the experience of others,” Mitoma said. “This is an opportunity for you to come learn about how all of our experiences, no matter race, religion or other identity, have been informed or (are) informed or will be informed by how this country deals with racism.”

Throughout campus, different organizations will feature events and exhibits on race relations in modern America, according to the event schedule.

During the day, the first floor of the Homer Babbidge Library will feature an exhibit and slide presentation of the library’s interdisciplinary collection of significant recent books on the study of race and racism, according to the event schedule.

“One of the things I’m particularly excited about is the model dialogue that is going to happen at 7:00 p.m. in Konover Auditorium,” Mitoma said. “We’ve got a wide cross-section of the university who’re going to do something really brave, which is to talk about race and racism from their own experience on a stage in front the community.”

Since 1970, UConn has designated special days of engaged and transformative learning on campus as “days of metanoia,” according to the website.

“This is a day devoted to university-wide reflection on a designated issue or topic,” Herbst said. “From the Greek term meaning a ‘change in attitude’,” the metanoia involves the entire UConn community—faculty, staff, and students—and all campuses, in a series of events meant to engage and challenge us all.”

“Together: Confronting Racism” will seek to create a ripple effect of change in the community and beyond in order to change how race is addressed in America, Mitoma said.

“The goal is that we start something that leads to change in our university, in our state and in our nation,” Mitoma said. “And I think one of the challenges has been for us as a country, since our founding, has been our inability to really address, really face, really come to terms with our history of racism and the role it’s played in building and sustaining this country.”


Andrew Miano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at andrew.miano@uconn.edu.