A Statement from Our Deans
Over the past few months, we have seen both the best and worst of humanity. Campuses and communities have demonstrated extraordinary care for one another during this pandemic. The pandemic also is a backdrop that magnifies a continuum of racism that has created inequity, fueled violence, and intensified prejudices. Recent acts of violence and racism directed at people of color tax the patience, health, and safety of our staff, students, and faculty of color. Witnessing these public events renews our commitment—as educators and social workers—to understand and acknowledge the effects of privilege and oppression, and work to create a more equitable world.
The list of injustices experienced during this health crisis is long, and likely will grow longer and more difficult: Negative stereotypes and references to the "Chinese virus," and other anti-Asian comments on social media and in the press by global leaders and lawmakers led to a spike in verbal and physical attacks on members of the Asian community. Startling disparities in infection, hospitalization, and mortality continue among African Americans, LatinX residents, and Native Americans. A White woman weaponizes her White privilege to demonize a Black man who attempts to birdwatch in Central Park. White men chase, shoot, and kill a male Black jogger and avoid arrest for months in Georgia. Law enforcement continue to use excessive force and abuse their power—kneeling on the neck of a Black man who begs for air, killing him and launching days of destruction in Minneapolis, and shooting a Black transgender man in Tallahassee. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. Tony McDade. And countless other names unknown or unsaid.
Digging out requires a combination of strategies: organizing, protesting, electoral engagement, accountability for those who commit violence, legislative and policy changes, and more. There are no easy answers or fixes. And the work must be shared equally: White people must join as allies with people of color in condemning racist rhetoric and race-based violence and policies, and work as committed partners in action and organizing.
We call on all our White community members to step up, commit to anti-racism work, and non-black people of color to explicitly address anti-blackness. We must all engage in action-oriented solutions to combat systemic and institutional racism, minimize disparities, and end racial violence.
Sara Furr, Dean of Students, Diversity and Inclusion, School of Social Service Administration
Deborah Gorman-Smith, Dean, School of Social Service Administration
Non-Black People of Color & White People: Challenge Your Own Racism and that of Others
Educate yourself and stay informed. Engage with current and historical works, such as:
- History of Police Brutality in America
- The Case for Reparations
- 1619 Project
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- A Guide for Sustaining Conversations on Racism, Identity, and our Mutual Reality by Steve Burghardt, Kalima DeSuze, Linda Lausell Bryant, & Mohan Vinjamuri
- 13th documentary
Organize and participate in within-identity group spaces to gain self-awareness around implicit and explicit biases and participation in upholding and strategies to dismantle white supremacy. For example, organize a group to implement Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook challenge.
Engage in racial justice work. Locate resources on how to be involved (e.g., A Guide to Being an Ally; 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice; 6 Things White People Can Do To Reach Friends and Family Members to End Racism).
Learn about what is happening in your community regarding dismantling anti-Black racism. Showing up for Racial Justice has many chapters around the country and tend to be predominantly white spaces where white people support other white people in becoming anti-racist.
Raise awareness and talk about/acknowledge ongoing and historical roots of racial violence and oppression of Black and Brown communities with family, friends, colleagues, peers, students, etc.
Challenge and address acts of racism and oppression.
Read President Obama’s How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change and the report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Contact Your Members of Congress
Contact your Congressional representative to endorse the resolution introduced by Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Ilhan Omar (MN-05), in partnership with Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) denouncing police brutality, racial profiling, and use of excessive force.
Make a Donation to Memorial and Bailout Funds
I Run with Maud—Justice for Ahmaud Arbery Fundraiser
National Bailout Funds—Free Black Mamas
Support Organizations and Groups Working Toward Change
Talk to Your Children
Say Their Names—A toolkit from Chicago Public Schools to help foster productive conversations about race and civil disobedience
Don't Say Nothing by Jamilah Pitts—From the Teaching Tolerance website