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Listen & Learn



“Listening is informed by three central principles: listening to learn; listening for understanding rather than agreement; and asking powerful questions. This form of listening enables a much more authentic presence with one another that can build the trust essential for sustainable communities that can dismantle systems of oppression. Because so much of oppression happens in the ways we relate to one another—ways that are learned behaviors—truly receiving one another while suspending our internalized assumptions enables new possibilities to arise.”

—Amy Bintliff, Listening: An Essential Social Justice Practice




Yaw Kyeremateng, a UNI alumnus and 2013 Homecoming King, performs the slam poem “Accent” in which he offers the audience a glimpse into his life as a Ghanian-born person living in the United States. Kyeremateng explores reactions to his West African accent, code-switching, and the dissonance of existing in the space between his Ghanian ancestral roots and his Americanized speech. (Video length: 3:22)

Watch the performance

The original performance has been edited for mature language.




America Needs Their Meat

Malena Silva is a 2021 UNI alumnus and the past-president of the UNI Speech team. Malena is performing programmed oral interpretation, which is a combination of different types of literature organized around a theme. Malena’s performance critiques the idea that many immigrants are essential workers but treated as disposable. If you are interested in learning more about our immigrant or refugee community, check out EMBARC Iowa. If you are interested in learning about the speech team, check them out on Instagram @UNISpeechStudents. (Video length: 9:02)

Listen to her speak

a drawing of a package of chicken legs
a drawing of an apple

Apples and Elephants

Apples and Elephants is a one-act play written by UNI Professor Steven Taft. It’s late May 2020. Tempers are rising and South Minneapolis is in flames following the killing of George Floyd. What happens when a young white woman unexpectedly meets an African American man in a Minneapolis park the day after a violent protest in Minneapolis? Apples and Elephants explores life perspectives as diverse as our society in an attempt to discover common ground in these unsettling times.

Read the script

Email steve.taft@uni.edu to have him facilitate a conversation based on the play.



Sons of Jacob Synagogue

Sons of Jacob Synagogue, produced and directed by Francesca Soans and Robert Neymeyer, is a pioneering hour-long documentary about the stories of a Jewish community in Waterloo, Iowa. They came from Ukraine, from Russia, and from Germany to America. The documentary tells their stories, documenting their history and struggles as a minority community. Weaving interviews, text, and striking imagery, the documentary traces the synagogue as a spiritual center and symbol of the community, exploring the connections between memory, identity, and place. Sons of Jacob Synagogue has won awards at several state, national, and international film festivals. It also received the Loren Horton Community History Award by the State Historical Society of Iowa. (Film length: 56 minutes)

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star of david
hand symbolizing an honest oath

Let's Be Honest

On October 8-9, 2020 the annual Economic Inclusion Summit was held. To kick off this event, the powerful video Let’s Be Honest was shared. In the video, people from the Cedar Valley share their stories and call on our community to “be honest” about where we are currently with issues of inclusion and invite us to work together to make change. The conference is a partnership between UNI and Grow Cedar Valley. We recommend you mark your calendars and plan to attend in 2021. (Video length: 13:45)

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illustration of an ear

The Storytelling Project

The Storytelling Project emerged from a digital workshop designed to empower women of color to tell their personal stories. In this intensive three-day workshop, thirteen participants from all over the country gathered in Alabama, shared personal narratives, and explored elements of digital storytelling. These stories, which revolve around Black women and their lived experiences, family narratives, relationships, generational resilience, and much more, are recorded here. 

Explore the project



We Are Seeds

Tevka Lackmann, a freshman at the University of Northern Iowa majoring in Studio Art, produced the piece We Are Seeds. Pictured are Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, all victims of police brutality. This piece was made to honor their lives and continue the conversation. Below the artwork is a short Q & A with the artist. Lackmann’s work primarily focuses on social justice and the natural world. You can find more of her art on her Instagram @drawinchick.

View the artwork

a tray of seedlings
drawing of a butterfly

Immigration, Resilience, and Hope.

In this short video, Immigration, Resilience, and Hope, UNI Professor and Associate Dean of the Graduate College Gabriela Olivares-Cuhat shares her immigration story, highlighting some of the  problems she has faced as an immigrant. Despite these challenges, she encourages others to press on and look to a better future. (Video length: 1:45)

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How We Could Have Lived or Died This Way

The poem "How We Could Have Lived or Died This Way" was written by Martín Espada and was first published in the North American Review (NAR) in 2015. This work is a commentary on injustice in the United States, specifically the killing of POC by police. The poem is an outward look at the Black Lives Matter movement and the momentum behind racial equality movements both in the past and future. The violence discussed in this work is visualized by the accompanying artwork by Julie Russell Steuart, which features a dramatic black and white imagery with red dripping down the image. (Video length: 4:04)

Martín Espada will be reading via Zoom for UNI and NAR on April 1 at 7:00PM. Visit this link to register for the zoom event.

Listen to the poem

drawing of eyes


She Evolved

In this episode of She Evolved, Sashay Carrol, a 2020 graduate of UNI, interviews her mentor Jamie Butler Chadozie. Jamie has 4+ years of experience in diversity and inclusion work. She has dedicated her life to providing support and advocacy to numerous students in the realm of higher education. She currently serves as a Director for the Department of Diversity Inclusion and Social Justice at the University of Northern Iowa. Sashay Carrol strongly believes that taking the opportunity to listen to this podcast will provide you with insight on the experiences of Black women in the workplace. Click here for more information on whitesplaining and how to avoid it. (Podcast length: 37:09)

Gain insight

This podcast episode contains mature language.

drawing of a breifcase
drawing of letters


Listen as Professor David I. Hernández-Saca performs five poems exploring the intersections of identity. The nucleus of Hernández-Saca’s research agenda is problematizing the common sense assumptions of what learning disabilities (LD) are and how they relate to: 1) The emotional impact of learning disability labeling on conceptions of self, 2) The role of emotions and affect in teacher learning about social justice issues, 3) transition planning and programming for historically multiply marginalized youth with disabilities and 4) and violence within the academy against historically multiply marginalized and non hegemonic scholars at their intersections of power and identities for their well being and healing. (Transcription of the audio is provided here). (Video length: 10:44)

Listen to the poems