Interracial Relationships Topic of Assumption Professor’s TEDx Talk
Assumption College Associate Professor of Human Services & Rehabilitation Studies Cinzia Pica-Smith, Ed.D., presented a TEDx Talk entitled “Interracial Friendships in Schools: Why Diversity Day Isn’t Enough” at the TEDx Easthampton Women event in Easthampton.
In her presentation, Prof. Pica-Smith discussed how interracial friendships are associated with a host of positive outcomes for those who share them. These relationships are rare in the United States, where both adults and children share mostly same race friendships. Prof. Pica-Smith will discuss why this is the case, and ways in which to support these important relationships among youth in schools.
“Research spanning several decades demonstrates that intergroup friendships are associated with prejudice reduction and positively impact the development of critical thinking in youth,” said Prof. Pica-Smith. “In these divisive times of racist and xenophobic political and public discourse, educators are becoming increasingly interested in supporting these important bonds. Yet, interpersonal interventions and one-time initiatives to bring together students of different social identities can be ineffective and even harmful. We can create supportive communities that sustain meaningful relationships between students, but the focus of creating these communities has to be on systemic interventions towards racial equity, and that’s a more complex conversation than the one we are used to having.”
At Assumption College Professor Pica-Smith teaches in the Department of Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies as well as the Education Department. She is the coordinator of the concentration program, Working with Children and Adolescents in Community Settings. Prof. Pica-Smith has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles focused on the interracial friendships of youth in schools paying particular attention to how educators and school systems in both the U.S. and Europe can create equitable and socially just school environments to support young people. She was awarded a Distinguished Paper Award by the American Educational Research Association for her work on the raced, classed, and gendered deficit discourses related to so-called “at risk” youth and has been honored by the Association for Childhood Education International. Prof. Pica-Smith’s most recent publication is a book titled Social Justice Education in European Multiethnic Schools: Addressing the Goals of Intercultural Education.
Prof. Pica-Smith received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Saint Rose; her Master of Education from Harvard University; and her doctorate from University of Massachusetts Amherst.
TEDx is an independently organized TED event. According to the website, “in the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.” At these events, video presentations and live speakers “combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.”
Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College