DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Courageous Dialogue series explores intersectionality, anti-racism and mentorship
By Lynn Safranek /
October 6, 2021 /
Posted in: CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY /
A new video series from a DePaul professor and documentarian explores the universal themes of intersectionality, anti-racism and diversity mentorship through the personal stories of 27 DePaul faculty, staff, students and alumni.
The Courageous Dialogue Series is the culminating project of
2020-21 Presidential Faculty Fellow Chi-Jang Yin, area head of photography and media art, and associate professor in The Art School at DePaul. Yin's series is available to view on
the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity website,
YouTube and the
Courageous Dialogue Series Facebook page. DePaul's
BUILD Diversity Certificate program will feature videos from the series to illustrate themes of diversity, equity and inclusion.
"The videos are personal to each participant and the journeys that led them to this moment in time," Yin says. "At the same time, the insights they share are universal. Each contains a great deal of educational value."
The Presidential Faculty Fellows program is a year-long appointment for faculty to bring substantive understanding and intellectual rigor to discussions around strategic priorities—such as DEI—and perform research and supplemental activities under the auspices of the Office of the President.
During her fellowship, Yin, a trained diversity facilitator at the National SEED Project, selected the 27 participants from a group of 115 applicants after the open call and recorded their personal stories over the winter and spring. The videos cover a wide range of topics: disability rights in the workplace, the power of being mentored and paying it forward to others, and the immigrant experience, to name a few. Several participants described experiences they had because of their race that motivated them to choose career paths related to advocacy.
award-winning documentarian, Yin found inspiration for the Courageous Dialogue series in TED Talks—the popular short, personal online videos that impart valuable lessons. She also sought to emulate 19th-century African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who sat for portraits to make his presence felt and became the most photographed American of the 19th century.
"Douglass recognized the value of the camera as a social leveler to challenge stereotypes. He intended to take control of being seen as a man through this new technology at that time," Yin says.
With Douglass in mind, Yin placed participants front and center. The videos were recorded over Zoom, a consequence of the pandemic that had the artistic effect of introducing visual elements of abstractness. Yin used plain backgrounds to remove a sense of place and time. In another nod to Douglass, she also photographed portraits of some participants by Chicago's lakefront—another timeless space—for what she hopes will someday be an extension of the video project.
Participants in the Courageous Dialogue Series are:
Lynn Safranek is the assistant vice president of strategic communications in University Marketing and Communications.