June 02, 2020

A Message from the Academic Senate President

"One either allows racial inequities to persevere—as a racist—or confronts racial inequities—as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism." 

— Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

Dear Colleagues,

As educators, we have a responsibility to openly and loudly affirm that we vehemently oppose and condemn the actions of the police officers in Minneapolis who murdered George Floyd, along with far too many who went before him. We must openly and loudly affirm that we are against police brutality and all violence against Black Americans. Our society is being traumatized by the systemic, institutional racism that pervades the structures that govern and rule our citizenry. And white complicity is to blame.

As a white, cis-gendered, straight female, I can only imagine the deep and distinct pain that must be endured by Black Americans. What it must do to a person to live in fear every day blows my mind. I must ask you: How are we helping our Black colleagues at SBCC? Our Black students? How are we working with our non-Black employees to remind them that inherent bias runs deep and that we are each responsible for unlearning racism? How will we address this within our institution?

I ask these questions because I care deeply about our campus community and because we, as an institution, have not adequately responded to incidents of racism on our campus. Because of our fraught past with handling racism, there have been negative impacts on people of color among our faculty, staff, and students. Many of our colleagues of color do not feel safe on campus and have been publicly shamed for questioning the SBCC campus culture. Crossroads Anti-Racism and the equity training designed for Distance Education explains that racism goes beyond personal prejudices; white supremacy undergirds our institution.

How, then, can we create change at SBCC? We have to be actively engaged and committed to doing so. No one becomes “anti-racist” just by claiming themselves that way. Here are some suggestions to move in that direction: 
  • Watch one or more webinars dedicated to African American Student Success sponsored by the Community College League of California, or curated specially for non-people-of-color, the “Disrupting Racism: Foundations for Concerned White People” reading list put together by Dr. Carrie Hutchinson, Professor of Communication

  • Join the ASCCC in the webinar “A Call to Action,” tomorrow, Wednesday, June 3, from 9 am to 10:30 am, to learn how the CCC system will take action to address structural racism and ensure that our communities and students have access to an equal educational opportunity. Join the webinar with this link or watch via Livestream here

  • Read some books from the “Anti-Racist Reading List,” by Ibram X. Kendi 

  • Listen to your colleagues and students of color and ensure that you de-center yourself, and your experiences, in the conversations

  • Support organizations that do anti-racism work. If you want a list of organizations, local or national, please contact me. 

In addition to these items, during my May 24 presentation to the Board of Trustees, I shared my vision statements for my Academic Senate Presidency. One specific point I committed to was “championing a safe, accessible, and actively inclusive campus culture by creating new channels for encouraging and supporting interdisciplinary, equitable, and anti-racist pedagogy.” The Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity survey results proved that we have some major work to do in eliminating the barriers to inclusion that many experience daily. This year, the Academic Senate will be engaging in some hard, but necessary, dialogues about the uglier parts of our campus’s history to allow for opportunities for genuine healing as a campus community, something that hasn’t happened yet. The concept of inclusive excellence is designed to help colleges, like SBCC, be excellent in all areas of learning, teaching, student development, institutional functioning, and engagement in local and global communities. To accomplish this, we must not only enact “Equity-Mindedness,” but also take personal and institutional responsibility that we are race-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of exclusionary practices. We must work on challenging and eliminating them here. As the Academic Senate President, I am committed to the Academic Senate taking the lead on that responsibility.

In community and remembrance of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Nina Pop, D'Andre Campbell, Tony McDade, Regis Korchini-Paquet, Ahmaud Arbery, Jordan Baker, Victor White III, Keith Lamont Scott, Dontre Hamilton, Michael Brown, Larry Jackson Jr., Jonathan Ferrell, Sean Reed, Steven Demarco Taylor, Ariane McCree, Terrance Franklin, Miles Hall, William Green, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Samuel David Mallard, Tamir Rice, Botham Shem Jean, E.J. Branford, Antwon Rose, Stephon Clark, Natosha “Tony” McDade, Freddie Gray, Brendon Glenn, John Crawford III, Yassin Mohamed, Wendell Allen, Finan H. Berhe, Darius Tarver, Kwame “KK” Jones, De’von Bailey, Christopher Witfield, Anthony Hill, Micheal Brown, Ezell Ford, and Dante Parker, and thousands more. I look forward to engaging in this work with you,