Photograph courtesy of Jace King

Image of Speaker Elizabeth Ross Wake

On Saturday, March 20, 2021, months of planning came to fruition in the form of the TEDx event at the University of Illinois Springfield. The event itself was titled “TEDxUofISpringfield: Bridging the Gap.” The website created for this event states that it “began as an idea in the Fall of 2020. It was seen as a way to bring the UIS community and the Springfield community together through a shared stage.” The sponsors for the event were the UIS Student Government Association, Student Life, Student Union, Brookens Library, Sangamon Reclaimed, Performing Arts Center, Student Activities Committee, The Department of Communication and the College of Education and Human Services. Outside of these sponsors, multiple departments on campus came together as social media partners, including the UIS Theatre and Gender and Sexuality Student Services. The UIS campus united and worked diligently to put on this event.

Each speaker was powerful, informative and a part of the Springfield community. The first speaker was UIS’s own Dr. Sarah L. Webb. She is an assistant professor in the English Department and the creator of the website Colorism Healing. Her talk was titled, “How Can We Heal from the Shades of Colorism?” Dr. Webb opened with a personal anecdote, stating that her family members viewed her and her sister differently. Both have the same parents, but Dr. Webb’s sister had lighter skin and was perceived as more beautiful from an early age. A “heartbreaker” was what they called her sister. She went on to explain how colorism is a problem that needs to be addressed, stating that it starts at home but ends with yourself. A slide that was shared during the event stated:

“Healing is when

Here becomes Me,

and I become HOME.”

Dr. Webb then examined the idea of being a heartbreaker, concluding that “healing hearts, now that’s really where it’s at.” Another UIS professor to speak was Dr. Richard Gilman-Opalsky, who teaches political theory and philosophy. He recently published the book The Communism of Love and his talk was titled “What’s Love got to do with Communism?” In his talk, he spoke of gemeinwesen. A term explored by Karl Marx, gemeinwesen is how the human community is, could be, and should be. Dr. Gilman-Opalsky went on to speak about exchange relations and how certain relationships are not based on of this exchange, such as the love between a parent and child or the relationship between two friends. These relationships where labor is not exchanged for a wage is what he termed “islands of communism,” showing that people yearn for something more than basic exchange relations. This can and should be stretched outside of these interactions to make sure that every person’s needs are met and that love itself is something bigger than the private property of a relationship.

The other speakers that attended were Elizabeth Ross Wake (“Are you paying to perpetuate poverty?”); Dean Cantu (“Why are We Obsessed with the Image of Death?”); Meg Shadid (“How do you Combat One-sided Facts?”); Melissa Hostetter (“Can we Afford to Ignore the Science of Reading?”); Menno Servaes (“Why Should you Choose to Ignore your Gut?”); Sudeep Sharma (“Why Should You Master the Art of Negotiation?”); and Taryn Christy (“Why Aren’t Prisons Built for Periods?”). These speakers ranged from current UIS students to teachers within the Springfield community. In this event, all of their voices were heard to share powerful messages related to “Bridging the Gap.”

Overall, the event was an opportunity for UIS and the surrounding community to unite. All thanks for this event go to the planning committee, which includes the following: Director Antone Evans Jr., Co-Director Mason Seggebruch, Fundraising and Corporate Relations Coordinator Benjamin Booker, Speaker Logistics Coordinator Hannah Nicolaisen, Event Planner Moyo Adeolu, Public Relations Coordinator Cameryn Hodges, Content Manager Jace King and Design and Technology Coordinator Zehra Ozkan. (Full disclosure: Hodges and King are both current staff members at The Journal.)