Reflections on Racism: PWIs and minority students Part I

Photo from the NY Times

Photo from the NY Times

It has been about a week since the  incident at Texas A&M University. As I read more about how the incident is being “handled” I wonder why there is still such a lack of proactive education and awareness on diversity and inclusion at PWIs (Predominately White Institutions)?  Like many institutions, A&M has diversity officers and a multicultural/diversity office- and like many institutions, they do well in handling situations that occur on campus and impact the campus community. But one thing that I have also seen and experienced (as a higher education professional who has worked at multiple PWIs), is a lack of campus-wide education and awareness regarding diversity and inclusion in a way that impacts more than just minority students, faculty, and staff.

Implementing initiatives to attract, recruit and admit students of color, means nothing without initiatives aimed at retaining and supporting them. And now we have reached a point where the support must include educating non-minority faculty, staff, and students about how to understand and work with them. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and having organizations for black, hispanic, international, and asian students is not enough. Especially, when members of these organizations make up most of the participants at their events, programs and educational workshops. It is great support for these students, and a celebration of their cultures. But…as I have observed, there is a lack of a white (and particularly a white-male) presence at many of the events, programs, training sessions, and workshops related to cultural competence, diversity, and inclusion.They are preaching to the choir.  Continue reading

Brown University: $100M Diversity Plan

google.com

google.com

Brown University released a statement regarding a plan they have drafted to invest $100M over the next decade in diversity efforts to address racial and ethnic injustice, and promote diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. Providence Journal

“Qatar out of our schools”- Arabic Immersion in Texas

Arabic 1

Last week was the first week of school for many K-12 and college students across Texas. In Houston, last week was the first week of school for HISD’s new Arabic Immersion Magnet School. Though the district and superintendent Terry Grier were proud of the new school and its potential unique educational value for students, some Houstonians opposed and protested the opening of the school.

On Monday August 26th, students and parents were welcomed by protesters who believe the school’s half Arabic, half English immersion structure to be “anti-American.” The Arabic Immersion school is not the first immersion school in the district, but it is however the first that has been met with such opposition. In 2012 there were no protesters at the site of the opening of HISD’s Mandarin Immersion School.

According to the Chron.com, “Arabic was the second most common language other than English spoken by HISD families last school year.”  The Arabic-speaking population in the greater Houston area has increasingly grown since 2009 to over 20,000 people. Also, Houston is the nation’s energy capital, and most people believe it is beneficial to have graduates who can speak multiple languages, in particular those popular among countries included in the energy industry.

On August 26th, there were about 30 adult protesters outside of the school, who held signs including phrases such as “Qatar out of our school,” “American Schools American Kids,” and “Everything I ever cared to know about Islam was taught to me by Muslims on 9-11-2001.”

As expected, many people including school officials took to social media (twitter) to voice concerns, opposition, and support of Arabic Immersion education as well as increasing immersion programs across the district.

Personally, I think immersion programs are a huge benefit to students, families, society, and the business industries. It is unfortunate that students, teachers, and parents were subjected to this ignorance from the “protesters.” There signs indicate a lack of knowledge regarding the current and growing diversity in Houston…
Arabic 2 Arabic 3 Arabic 4 Arabic 5

 

Photo and Information Sources: The Houston Chronicle

Rachel Dolezal steps down from NAACP Leadership Role

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Rachel Dolezal, director of education & curator of the Human Rights Education Institute, discusses the offering of Human Rights Education Institute flags Monday in response to flags flown by local hate groups.

Photo By: JEROME A. POLLOS

 

On June 12, 2015 The NAACP released a statement on their website naacp.org, regarding Rachel Dolezal, the President of the NAACP Spokane Branch. Within the statement was the following:

One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.

 

As of June 15, 2015 Dolezal has officially resigned from her leadership role with the chapter. Her full statement can be found below:

Dear Executive Committee and NAACP Members,

It is a true honor to serve in the racial and social justice movement here in Spokane and across the nation. Many issues face us now that drive at the theme of urgency. Police brutality, biased curriculum in schools, economic disenfranchisement, health inequities, and a lack of pro-justice political representation are among the concerns at the forefront of the current administration of the Spokane NAACP. And yet, the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.

I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story. I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion. Additionally, I have always deferred to the state and national NAACP leadership and offer my sincere gratitude for their unwavering support of my leadership through this unexpected firestorm.

While challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness, we can NOT afford to lose sight of the five Game Changers (Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Health & Healthcare, Education, Economic Sustainability, and Voting Rights & Political Representation) that affect millions, often with a life or death outcome. The movement is larger than a moment in time or a single person’s story, and I hope that everyone offers their robust support of the Journey for Justice campaign that the NAACP launches today!

I am delighted that so many organizations and individuals have supported and collaborated with the Spokane NAACP under my leadership to grow this branch into one of the healthiest in the nation in 5 short months. In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.

It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley. It is my hope that by securing a beautiful office for the organization in the heart of downtown, bringing the local branch into financial compliance, catalyzing committees to do strategic work in the five Game Changer issues, launching community forums, putting the membership on a fast climb, and helping many individuals find the legal, financial and practical support needed to fight race-based discrimination, I have positioned the Spokane NAACP to buttress this transition.

Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It’s about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum. It’s about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.

With much love and a commitment to always fight for what is right and good in this world,

Rachel Dolezal

Source: naacp.org; The Washington Post

Higher Ed. professional fired over Assata Shakur mural

Mural

If college is the marketplace of ideas that should be open to freedom of expression and diversity of ideals, was it really right to remove a mural depicting Assata Shakur from a “remote” area on the campus of Marquette University? Furthermore, was it appropriate (or right) to fire  the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (who was responsible for the creation of the mural)? Some regard Shakur as a terrorist, cop-killer, and dangerous black militant, especially after her murder conviction and escape from prison in the 70’s. However, some regard her as a powerful black activist, a leader, and a feminist leader.

A statement was released on behalf of Marquette University recently regarding the removal of the mural and the dismissal of a well-respected campus administrator:

“This is extremely disappointing as the mural does not reflect the Guiding Values of Marquette University. It is being removed immediately. We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the mural and will take appropriate action.”

Continue reading

A History of Violence Part One

In lieu of recent protesting and more specifically, the “riots” in Baltimore, let us take some time to think back on the birth of our nation and the struggles that people had to endure for the American Revolution. We do indeed have a history of violence in this country. There were protests, riots, and looting. Remember this? Sons of Liberty

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Race Together with USA Today and Starbucks

USA Today will expand on the initiative that Starbucks has taken to promote conversations and understanding on Race in America. What are your thoughts? Article Link

Thoughts on OU/SAE incident

Expulsion seems like the right thing to do, and seems to be a punishment that fits the bill for what these college students did and allowed to happen; however I disagree. It gives them the opportunity to bow out,  and off campus without having to face those who they offended and those that can teach them something about their actions and possibly challenge their thoughts and beliefs as well. A few days after the incident became widespread news, there was a community discussion regarding race relations within the OU community. Several people attended and it seems that a great dialogue took place, but this is not enough.

I have attended numerous panel discussions, community conversations, townhall meetings, open forums etc. related to race relations, diversity,  and inclusion,  and what I have noticed is that you see the same people on college campuses and within communities participating time and time again. Those who are already becoming part of the solution, are open-minded, wanting to bring about change, or are already change agents, show up and speak up.  Other people who truly NEED to attend do not, and so it becomes the same conversation with the same people who hear the same messages. No new action is taken, and not much changes.

Those young men expelled from OU should have been required to attend. They should have also been required to attend other cultural competence seminars, workshops, and they should have been forced to sit in a room among those who spoke out about their poor decisions and actions and felt offended  in the first place. If they shamed the OU community, make the face the OU community and learn how and why what they did was shameful.  More of these conversations and experiences are going to have to be forced in order for them to occur and for people to exchange more meaningful dialogue that is not one-sided. Young people today are still very frightened, apathetic, and unable to communicate effectively to build better interpersonal relations. It’s time to push people out of their comfort zones and get the learning and understanding process going before more incidents like this one occur and college campuses become further divided.

2 OU Students Expelled

Update: 2 OU students have been expelled from the University by President Boren for playing a “leadership role” in the video that went viral over the weekend

OU's President, David Boren, expels two students after SAE video surfaces

OU’s President, David Boren, expels two students after SAE video surface

Geraldo Rivera on Hip Hop: Open Discussion

Geraldo Rivera recently said “hip hop has done more damage to Black and Brown people than racism in the last 10 years” What do you think?  Rivera on Hip Hop and Racism