Meshell Sturgis’s essay on Interrupting Privilege published on Media Rise


Alum Meshell Sturgis’s essay has been published in Media Rise’s special issue, Quarantined Across Borders (QAB). Media Rise is a shared collaborative space for artists, educators, storytellers, and activists; the QAB initiative represents 80+ authors across 30+ countries sharing their quarantine stories.
Sturgis graduated from the M.A. in Cultural Studies program in 2017 and is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Communication at University of Washington. Her essay “Interrupting Privilege is Different in the Year 2020” describes how the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity (CCDE), where Sturgis is a research assistant, shifted its flagship program, Interrupting Privilege (IP), from a UW student-alumni model to a community-based model. For its fourth year, IP chose to bring together high school and college students and community members from across Seattle for intergenerational conversations about race, racism, and its intersections. CCDE partnered with Northwest African American Museum to center Seattle’s Black community and shifted the focus from interracial to intraracial conversations to create “a sort of diasporic dialogue,” according to Sturgis.
The IP program was already in full swing when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Stugis calls attention to the discriminatory nature of the virus: “Despite the scientific race-neutral spread of COVID-19, it has become increasingly clear that humans and their systems do discriminate. Effects such as racial battle fatigue and weathering, insufficient healthcare, and access to resources, as well as higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, and pre-existing conditions have led to disproportionate infection rates amongst people of color during this public health crisis, especially the Black community.” Read Sturgis's essay.
QAB is Media Rise’s first entirely virtual multimedia online initiative. Says executive director Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian: “It is a diasporic diary, a glimpse into our souls, and a poetic salve. It is an archive of collective memory, a collage of cultural snapshots, and a shared space for sensemaking during these difficult times.” Sturgis’s CCDE colleague Anjuli Brekke’s essay on IP was also featured in Media Rise’s special issue.

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