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RISE UP Mini Documentary 


RISE UP: Racial (& Intersecting) Identity Symposium for Equitable University Progress

2020 Speak Out | January 30, 2020 | 5:00 p.m. | Union Bluffs

Applications for the 2021 cohort will begin in October. Contact Amanda Goodenough with questions.

2020 Speak Out Resources

If you are looking for someone to process with and you are unsure of where to turn, please see the below list of 2019 & 2020 RISE UP participants who are willing to process and share their experiences with you: 

  • Ali Tackett
  • Anne Galbraith
  • Cassandra Worner
  • Chris Schuster
  • Christa Kiersch
  • Dan Hyson
  • Dawn Hays
  • Grace Deason
  • Hannah Amann
  • Jess Peterson
  • Kate Slisz
  • Liz Bass
  • Lynette Prieur Lo
  • McKayla Haldorson
  • Megan Gosse
  • Megan Lister 
  • Mic Nauman
  • Miranda Panzer
  • Moira Ozias
  • Pearl Bearhart
  • Samantha Lee-Hodges
  • Tisha King-Heiden
  • Will Vanroosenbeek


ABLEISM: Ableism is discrimination against those with physical, mental, or cognitive disabilities and a favoring of “able-bodied” and “able-minded” individuals. Those with disabilities are considered broken or needing fixing to fit the “normal” world. This discrimination can show up in language, schooling, housing, public and private spaces, and medicine. 
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AGEISM: Discrimination against people that don’t fit the age range for the situation. Ageism particularly hurts those who are older in life (50+) who face discrimination in jobs, housing, and school. However, ageism can also happen to young individuals, particularly those who are young and new to the workforce.
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ANTI-BLACKNESS: A hatred or fear of Black people and their bodies that reflects a want for whiteness. Anti-blackness can be held by white people, non-black people of color, and black people. It shows up in such things as dating preferences, push for lighter skin, use of the n-word, and using black culture for profit and likeability.
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BIPOC: “We use the term BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context. We unapologetically focus on and center relationships among BIPOC folks in order to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice.” (

CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE: The big and small ways that the Christian religion is given preference in the USA over other religions, including days off, store closures, holidays, oaths, religious freedom acts, our currency, and our laws. Christian privilege also shows up in who can show their religion safely in public spaces. 
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CLASSISM: Prejudice based on social class. It includes the belief that people who are more educated or who have more money (e.g., people who have higher “socioeconomic status”) are better than people who have less money or education. Adapted from &

COLORISM: Preferring and treating people with lighter skin (both white and people of color) better because their skin color looks whiter. Alice Walker (Black female author) was the first to use this term in 1983. The history of colorism goes all the way back to slavery, where lighter skin slaves often were given better tasks such as housework over fieldwork. That better treatment today shows up in earnings, hiring practices, dating, interactions with the police and courtrooms, and access to healthcare.
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ELITISM: The belief that a certain section of the population have unique qualities (often tied to money and power) that make them ideal to be the ruling class. They are believed to be naturally smart, skilled, and innate leaders as opposed to the “masses”. Elitism can happen in any political party or social identity.
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ERASURE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: This idea that indigenous and native folx identity in the past, or are only portrayed in the past tense. Crystal Echo Hawk informs us that American students learn some of the most damaging misconceptions and biases toward Native Americans in grades K-12. In fact, 87 percent of history books in the U.S. portray Native Americans as a population existing before 1900, according to a 2014 study on academic standards. For many Americans, we no longer exist. With minimal mention of contemporary issues and ongoing conflicts over land and water rights or tribal sovereignty, Native Americans have become invisible and it can be argued that it makes it easier for non-Natives to take the lead on creating their own narratives about us. Our invisibility makes it easier to create and support racist mascots or over sexualize caricatures of Native women in everything from fashion to Halloween costumes. Here is a link to Crystal’s article: The false narratives, invisibility, and the erasure of Native peoples must end as well as Reclaiming Native Truth, A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions about Native Americans. 

FATPHOBIA: The hatred and demeaning of larger individuals because they do not fit the narrow ideal of beauty, which includes thinness. Fatphobia can show up in a lot of spaces, particularly in our medical advice. Often fat people face subpar medical treatment, bullying, relational violence, and difficulty navigating a world built for “thin” people. This also harms many people who are healthy but are not thin or those who have eating disorders.
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HOMOPHOBIA: A fear of or hatred toward people who love or are attracted to someone of the same gender (examples: lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and/or other queer people). People can be homophobic in small and large ways, such as telling your children that “gay people are dirty and sinful” or physically or verbally assautling someone because they’re gay. 
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INSTITUTIONAL LIKEABILITY: Having visible identities that afford one great levels of privilege within institutions. Individuals ‘spend‘ their likeability when they take on oppression so vigorously that they risk being disliked by the powerful.

“Practicing decolonizing intercultural education requires that I speak truth to power, challenging hegemony and hierarchy. [One] cannot undertake these challenges authentically without being disliked by many individuals and most institutions.” (Paul Gorski)

MISOGYNOIR: The specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward black women. (Moya Bailey)

SEXISM: Prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender identity. Sexism may include the belief that one sex or gender is naturally better than another. Adapted from

TRANSPHOBIA: Violence against trans people that is built into our society (e.g., our laws, policies, and culture). It is fear, discomfort, distrust, or dislike for trans people--people who identify with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth. 
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WHITE FRAGILITY: A state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. (Robin DiAngelo)

XENOPHOBIA: The fear and/or hatred of people considered “foreign,” from another culture, or strangers. Fear and/or dislike of cultures, dress, foods, language etc. of people who are culturally different from oneself.
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RISE UP provides a critical space for UWL employees to practice cultural humility, particularly from a racial justice lens, through an intensive week-long identity immersion and coalition-building professional development experience.


  • Build a community of anti-racist educators
  • Improve retention among minoritized populations
  • Produce a social justice and racial equity training tool for faculty and staff
  • Deepen the progress of student led-racial justice movements


To date, one of UWL's most successful, well-known, and far-reaching social justice/equity initiatives is Awareness through Performance (ATP) , a program that promotes greater consciousness around campus climate and social justice issues on the UWL campus and beyond. Using the stage as their forum, a diverse troupe of 20 students come together to speak their truth, creatively challenge systems of privilege and oppression, and inspire critical thought and social responsibility across campus. Their culminating 90-minute performance promotes an inclusive campus environment and addresses issues of power, privilege and oppression. Since its first debut in 2006, 78 performances have been offered to the La Crosse community, impacting over 2000 students, employees and community members every year.

ATP has consistently been regarded as a powerful and profound teaching tool and has received numerous awards, including: RHAC “Best All Campus Educational Program of the Year” (2006-07, 2010-11); “Outstanding Diversity Program” (2011-12); “Program Achievement Diversity Award” from the State of Wisconsin’s Council on Affirmative Action and Office of State Employment Relations (2009); and “Best Diversity Program” from the Wisconsin College Personnel Association (2012). ATP was also invited as the signature event at the 2015 Upper Midwest Region Association of College and University Housing Conference, a keynote presentation at the 2017 American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference, and a featured presentation at UW River Falls in the fall of 2017.

Beyond the accolades and campus impact, the most valuable success of the ATP program has been the validation, empowerment, and retention of troupe members. Through the ATP experience, students activate their identities, find their voice, form critical coalitions, invest in self-care, and ultimately become among the university's strongest and most effective social justice activists. Despite ATP Development Week lasting only 9 days, the passion, skills and community built during that time sustains troupe members well beyond their final show. In fact, according to 2016 data retrieved from UWL's Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning Office, ATP participants have a 92% graduation rate compared to UWL as a whole at 68%.

While ATP has enhanced campus climate and advanced equity at UWL, many obstacles remain. One is the lack of bold, culturally competent, anti-racist leadership at every level of the university, which results in students disproportionately and unfairly assuming the responsibility and emotional labor of social justice activism. Although student voices are powerful, they cannot and should not carry this burden alone. Unfortunately, faculty/staff who wish to advance racial equity are often isolated in their departments, unsupported by their supervisors, exhausted from racial battle fatigue, or leave the university altogether. Based on these shortcomings, we have learned that employee coalitions must be built to institute effective, multi-directional and sustainable racial/social justice movements. This need is the influence for our new initiative: RISE UP.

Project Outcomes:

In support of UWL’s value of “equity, diversity and inclusion,” and in an effort to further invest in UWL’s strategic plan pillars of Achieving Excellence through Equity & Diversity and Investing in our People, Campus Climate replicated the highly successful student model of ATP to create a similar experience for UWL employees: RISE UP. The 2019 pilot program united a diverse coalition of approximately 40 faculty/staff across disciplines and departments for a week-long immersion in identity development and racial/social justice dialogue. Through a cultural humility lens, participants employed critical thinking and critical feeling in their exploration of racial justice and equity issues. The inaugural cohort was assembled in January 2019 for the RISE UP symposium; with retention in mind, a critical mass of faculty/staff of color, other minoritized identities, and/or folks invested in social justice work were sought, as to foster an environment centered around identity immersion, community-finding, resistance building, and freedom of expression that is not currently offered outside of this program. Advisors and guest speakers led the cohort through an intensive 5-day experience, culminating in a co-created, campus-wide Speak Out that served as an inclusive excellence training tool for faculty/staff.

In the short term, it is hoped that RISE UP cohort members gain:

1) a community that provides support, empowerment, and sense of belonging and mattering;
2) deeper and more trusted relationships that offer accountability;
3) necessary partnerships and trust with student change agents and activists;
4) skills for infusing racial/social justice into their classrooms, offices, and everyday practices; and
5) a greater sense of urgency for interrogating and dismantling higher educational systems of oppression.

The culminating RISE UP Speak Out is promoted campus-wide to foster the development of more anti-racist, social justice staff, educators, and administrators. In the long term, it is hoped that RISE UP participants, especially those of color and other minoritized backgrounds, will be retained at higher rates than current trends reveal when compared to the general employee population.

This increased retention will not only positively impact student of color retention, but also attract higher numbers of diverse applicants for UWL employment. A critical mass of anti-racist faculty and staff combined with existing and growing student movements will increase racial justice and equity and impact positive institutional change.