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“IAAR-SLATE (Institute of African American Research’s Student Learning to Advance Truth and Equity) – is a program designed to engage undergraduates in a transformative understanding of race, racism, and racial equity. There is a teaching component and a research component to IAAR-SLATE. These four stellar sociology students applied for and were accepted into the 2022 Summer Research Fellows Program. They each worked with an assigned faculty mentor either on their own, original research project, or contributed to their faculty mentor’s research project. The culmination of their summer fellowship was the presentation of their work at an undergraduate research symposium open to the entire campus. The sociology students and IAAR-SLATE Research Fellows in this photo are (left to right): Halley Zhang, Eesha Desai, Imani Russell, and Lily Roth.

Zhang’s paper, “Race, Class, Culture, Privilege and Choosing a College Major: Is it Really a Choice?” is an investigation into how racial, class, and cultural privileges influence the majors that UNC undergraduate students chose to pursue. She found strong ties between a student’s identity experiences— and even their pandemic experiences— and what they chose to study. Roth’s paper, “Intertwined and Irreconcilable: Analogies of Suffering Within the Modern Matrix of Oppress,” builds on the foundational ideas of Fanon’s grammars of suffering. Using various examples from literature like Caste, and Red White & Black, she argues that defining suffering by way of analogy is participating in the erasure of racial or ethnic oppression, and that the grammars of suffering are ultimately irreconcilable. Russell’s paper, “Apples and Oranges: The Think Skin Around Black Personality in the Case of Sam Wilson,” focuses on Black representation in Film and TV, using Sam Wilson, a prominent character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as a case study. She explored what ways this representation is handled in popular media, and how these representations limit or expand the possibilities of what and who Black people can be. Finally, Desai’s paper, “Student Opinions on the Creation of an Asian American Studies Program,” surveyed Asian American students on their interests in creating an Asian American Studies program here at UNC. Over 80% of these Asian American students surveyed were in support of it. “

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