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What’s in a Label?
Thinking about Diversity and Racial Categories

Ann Su, public interest lawyer

As humans, we constantly label and categorize information on both conscious and unconscious levels. Labeling enables our brains to sort information efficiently, but the labels and categories we assign to information can form generalizations and stereotypes in our minds. When we allow stereotypes to define individuals, we fail to see the inherent diversity in humans. Race is a form of labeling. What are we describing when we assign racial categories to others and ourselves? How can we use language to increase understanding and connection, and what are its limitations? Join public interest lawyer Ann Su for a conversation exploring how the words we choose influence our understanding of race and racial diversity.

Ann Su has been a public interest attorney, community activist, and social justice advocate for the past twenty years. She teaches in the areas of women’s studies, law and race/racism at Portland Community College and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She studied political and social thought at University of Virginia, then focused on public interest law at George Washington University. A self-proclaimed outlier, she has always been interested in how the ambiguity in language can unnecessarily polarize people. Her desire to explore diversity of thought and bridge understanding inspires her facilitation of this conversation on race and labeling.

Oregon HumanitiesThe Marylhurst Speaker Series is hosted by Marylhurst University’s Department of Interdisciplinary and Applied Liberal Arts. This talk is offered through Oregon Humanities’ Conversation Project, free programs that engage community members in thoughtful, challenging conversations about ideas critical to our daily lives and our state’s future.