Forum Premise: Words and their multiple uses reflect the diversity that characterizes our society. Universally agreed upon language on issues related to racism is nonexistent. Even frequently-used words in any discussion on race can easily cause confusion, which leads to controversy and hostility. It is essential to achieve some degree of shared understanding and shared language, particularly when using the most common terms. By doing so, we enhance the quality of dialogue and discourse on race and identity. Source: Racial Equity Tools Institute
Develop a shared language to use when discussing race and identity
Examine how language terms evolve given changing demographics and the dynamic nature of language and understanding
Underscore how historical and contemporary discrimination has shaped the use of racial equity terms
ACTION ITEM: What do we want them to do with these terms or this enhanced understanding of terms?
In spring 2021, College of Education staff and faculty gathered to reflect on the work being done by Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT). TRHT is a national and community-based process occurring in 14 communities across the nation.
TRHT has several initiatives. The COE’s spring forum focused on TRHT’s initiative to create narrative change through language. To that end, the forum centered on the video #HowWeHeal (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b_AWdbksdY). #HowWeHeal shares insights on how language has been used to perpetuate racist and deficit-based narratives; the video also includes ways in which we can consciously shift our language and encourage others to do the same to move away from a deficit-based perspective. Participants explored ways in which racial justice terms impact us on personal, professional, and interpersonal levels. Finally, the forum ended with a focus on why the narrative change in language is important and what we can do in our own practice to work toward narrative change in language.
The college held the first Diversity and Inclusion Forum in January as part of our commitment to the Call to Action statement : “Holding anti-oppressive conversations and training for faculty and staff that focus on specific identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, Disability, national origin, etc.)”
A short recap of some key takeaways from our first forum along with a few resources shared in the meeting:
How to apologize and focus on impact (instead of intent)
Considering a shift away from “calling people out” to “calling people in” (NYT Article below)
Importance of learning how to pronounce people’s names (or trying to correctly pronounce people’s names)
Common coping strategies used by students when responding to incidents related to race (resource from University of Illinois Racial Microaggressions Project)
What can we do as a college to encourage/enable our students to use empowering, constructive coping strategies? (connection to work done in our college committees)
Approaches to take with our colleagues and students when we find ourselves in these uncomfortable situations
Normalizing the behavior of asking others to hold us accountable/modeling the behavior of acknowledging our own mistakes in these situations in our roles as instructors and advisors
This message has been approved by all governance committees within the College of Education. It aligns with the vision, mission and values of the college.
In the College of Education, our efforts toward equity are a work in progress. We acknowledge that in our history and present we have made mistakes, but we commit to engage in anti-racism work to better serve the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community. This commitment includes ongoing action, initially split into five foci, that has been integrated into our governance structure. To serve the needs of the BIPOC community, we will employ equitable student recruitment and retention practices; examine pedagogy and update syllabi for non-bias and inclusive practices; engage in faculty/staff forums and trainings; review College research and scholarship support structures and policies, and create a welcoming environment in Furman Hall and beyond.
We as a College of Education commit to these actions by
Holding re-occurring “Call to Action” open sessions for faculty and staff to explore and discuss concerns and actions needed to further our efforts addressing racism.
Participating in DEI-focused leadership training (Leading Change for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) by all leadership team members.
Requiring search advocates for every competitive hire and creating a College policy to support equitable search practices for all college hiring.
Examining and improving equity in student recruitment and retention practices.
Reviewing course syllabi and pedagogy across programs to identify equity-focused changes.
Holding anti-oppressive conversations and training for faculty and staff that focus on specific identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, Disability, national origin, etc.).
Reviewing College research and scholarship support structures and policies to better support equity work, with explicit attention to serving the needs of the BIPOC community.
Building structures and practices that support and highlight College research and scholarship that uncover and promote the alleviation of inequity, with explicit attention to the needs of the BIPOC community.
Charging an ad hoc governance committee to explore changes to create a community and space that are welcoming for BIPOC students, faculty, and staff.
For more ideas, keep an eye out for information on our upcoming forums. Send questions, comments, concerns to email@example.com