What is Intersections?

Intersections is a discussion group that meets on a weekly basis to discuss the -isms of today and their roots in the past. We come together to seek understanding of the longstanding, thorny issues that complicate American society today.

Each meeting is devoted to a particular topic, with a different member of the group facilitating the conversation. Facilitators are not expected to be experts on the topic: the goal is to generate discussion and learning in the group.

Join Us!

Intersections meets every Wednesday, from 12:00 - 1:00. Locations and topics are announced weekly in SpiderBytes and on the University calendar. Participation is open to staff, faculty, and students of the University of Richmond.

A Brief History of Intersections

On August 30, 2017, a group of Information Services (IS) staff got together to discuss the Unite the Right rally that had taken place in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12. Several members of the IS staff had been having hallway and office discussions about the rally and the tragic events surrounding the event. Keith W. “Mac” McIntosh, Vice President for Information Services and CIO, convened weekly “Race and Racism” discussions, modeled after similar discussions he had participated in at Ithaca College in 2015.

In the first meeting, the group developed ground rules for how they would communicate with each other with respect.

The group decided to limit attendance to Information Services staff only, for reasons of privacy, trust, and familiarity. Attendance has always been optional, but a core group of about a dozen participants gathered weekly on Wednesdays from noon - 1:00 PM.

Through December 2017, McIntosh facilitated the weekly topical conversations. One conversation focused on the essay “Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable” by Dr. Belisa Gonzales. The goals of the group were to introduce topics of common interest and build awareness about differences, to understand their own biases, and to build confidence and capability to engage others in an inclusive and respectful way.

Beginning in January 2018, the group selected topics for each week, with different participants leading the conversations. Guest speakers were invited to talk to the group, including Dr. Lauranette Lee, Dr. Thad Williamson, Dr. Ed Ayers, and Dr. Glynn Hughes.

The group took time to read and discuss books. The first book, Overcoming Bias, by Tiffany Jana was followed by a visit by Ms. Jana to the group. In the fall of 2018, the group read Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. Dr. Tatum was one of that year’s Sharp Series speakers, and she agreed to meet with the group to discuss her book. The group also watched the movie “Crash” and spent a couple of weeks discussing it.

Throughout the book discussion lunches, other topics were planned for discussion. These included topics like privilege, welfare culture and entitlements, microagressions, #MeToo, and more.

In the fall of 2018, the group opened participation to other members of the University community. The group now welcomes faculty, staff, and students to the weekly meetings on Wednesdays at noon. As the calendar year came to an end, the group discussed rebranding the “Race and Racism Group” into a larger discussion of the other -isms. The group is now called Intersections.

Intersections in the News