It has been profoundly challenging for me to put my feelings into words since the weeks have transpired since the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by a white police officer on May 25th. I’m exhausted, depressed, numb, and angry. As an African American woman who grew up in the segregated South, of course, Black Lives Matter, a concept coined in 2013 after the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida. Violence against Black people is as old as our existence in this country. Those of us who are descendants of enslaved Africans know well this history beginning with slavery, followed by Jim Crow laws and the brutality of lynching and other violence against Black people’s bodies and property. This violence was coupled with government-sanctioned segregation until the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board decision and the Civil Rights Act and laws of the 1960s. “I can’t breathe,” as Floyd repeatedly pleaded, is a metaphor for Black people’s lives in this nation. Since this recent event, I have spent a lot of time talking with my friends who are Black and of my generation. We are all products of the activist Civil Rights generation of the 1960s. We came of age in graduate school during the late 60s and 70s and were the voices on our campuses for the push for more Black students, faculty, courses related to Black people as well as educational services. We have been reflecting on the flood of statements of “solidarity” and affirmation that Black Lives Matter by corporations, organizations, individuals, and institutions of higher education who have abysmal records when it comes to Black people. Reflecting on our activist years fifty years ago, we want now what we wanted then. We want the words of these institutions put into action. We would like to see Black people on boards, senior administration, faculty, staff, and students by these companies and colleges and universities. We want classes on the Black Diaspora and a department that offers such courses. These are the same requests we made in the 1960s. Recent articles have interviewed Blacks in a variety of fields: banking, communications, the entertainment, and film industry, as well as academe, to name a few. Those interviewed all express the same concern – a desire to see more Black hires and Blacks in leadership in their organizations.
Last year, I was feeling optimistic about the progress in higher education and felt our activism had paid off. I participated in activities across the country as institutions celebrated the 50th anniversary of Black Studies departments. Also, because I research the history of Black women’s higher education and serve as director of Applied Gender Studies, I participated in the 50th celebration of the admissions of women in previously all-male Ivy League institutions. I served twice on panels commemorating the 50th anniversary of the entrance of women to Yale University. I felt that the activism of the 60s paid off in higher education. However, I am wrong. I realize now that all the efforts of the 60s have come full circle. A sizeable number of the Black faculty members who were hired during the 60s and 70s are retired or deceased. They are rarely replaced, despite the steady number of Black people who have earned doctorates over the past half-century and earlier. What is clear to me is, Black faculty and staff are overwhelmingly hired when there is some outside pressure or mandate. While some institutions have made significant gains in the recruitment and retention of Black faculty and have courses as well as departments of Black and African Diaspora, others do not. These courses and departments help inform the next generation of students on the role of race in American culture and history and are essential in improving race relations.
As Director of the Applied Gender Studies Program (AGS) and the Certificate for Women’s and Gender Studies, I am committed to continue exposing our students to Black women speakers, faculty, and curricular offerings. While the movement of Black Lives Matter has overwhelmingly focused on the murders of Black men, we also concentrate on the killings of Black women and transgender women. AGS has produced a steady number of Black students in the program who are successful and continuing our work. Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd and it is my hope that we can contribute to through our work bring about change in racial and social justice.
—Linda M. Perkins, Associate University Professor and Director of Applied Gender Studies
In an effort to make antiracist goals intrinsic to the work of the Center for Writing & Rhetoric at Claremont Graduate University, we have begun a number of changes.
1. Centralize antiracist praxis in the CWR’s writing center philosophy.
- Redesign consultant training to be explicitly antiracist
- Design and implement antiracist professional development training for existing consultants
- Adjust all materials surrounding sessions where necessary to reflect this change in praxis (information on website and in the center, appointment forms, follow-up materials, etc.)
2. Revise the CWR’s Mission and Vision Statements to include an Anti-Oppression Statement that is developed collaboratively by student consultants and the CWR Director.
- After the initial antiracist professional development sessions, begin a process of collaboration on the language for an Anti-Oppression Statement, referring to exemplar examples in the field
- Revise the CWR’s Mission and Vision Statements to reflect the now explicitly antiracist pedagogy of the Center.
3. Develop a formal outreach program that prioritizes reaching marginalized groups at the university.
- Engage with student groups as part of a regular outreach process, designed by a student leader at the center;
- Conduct visits to as wide a range of classes as possible
- Develop the relationships necessary to recruit even more aggressively underrepresented groups at the university
4. Extend the explicit practice and display of the CWR as a safe space, both physically and virtually, to include antiracism.
- Prominently post and share the Anti-Oppression Statement in the physical center and on the website once it is developed
- Clearly display more safe space signage that represents a wider range of social groups online and in the physical center
5. Continue learning from the challenges and success of this process and make changes whenever necessary.
- Be open to feedback from any concerned stakeholders
- Conduct regular assessment to evaluate the appropriateness of the executed programs
6. Collaborate with offices, departments, and individuals at the university in support of antiracist causes.
- Support antiracist initiatives by, and develop antiracist projects in collaboration with, the Committee on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, the Office of Student Life, Diversity, & Leadership, student identity groups, and others
[This endeavor is in debt to the great example and research of many: The Writing Center of the University of Washington, Tacoma (1), (2); The Writing Support Program at Tufts University (3); The Writing Center of the University of Wisconsin, Madison (4), (5); and, the work of numerous scholars (6), (7), (8), (9), & (10).]
The faculty of the Cultural Studies Department at Claremont Graduate University stands in solidarity with all the protests in defense of Black Lives. The mission of our program is to arm our students with the critical skills to expose the ideological dimension of culture and to explore its radical potential, and the stakes have never been higher.
This year we have watched COVID-19 exacerbate health and economic disparities as poor and working class and communities of color have been increasingly placed on the pandemic front lines as first responders, health care providers and victims of the disease. We have watched as vulnerable communities are made more vulnerable through neglect, fear or the deliberate use of crisis as a cover for state violence. The pandemic has led to increased incidents of gender-based violence. People in jails, prisons, detention centers, Native American reservations and unhoused people face greater risks of illness and death. The government is continuing deportations, including of unaccompanied children, while banning asylum for refugees and immigrants. Anti-Asian discrimination and violence is being stoked by rhetoric at the highest levels of government.
And the recent murders of Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubery, George Floyd and many others have reminded us all that the United States, which is founded upon the exploitation, disregard and murder of Black lives, continues this legacy in old and new forms every day.
The teachings of our field remind us that all of these issues are interlocking and that resistance to it is our legacy and our charge. We stand with all activists and victims’ family members who are protesting in love and anger. We denounce the criminalization of protest and demand a rebalancing of public funding away from a militarized police force and prisons towards human needs like schools, housing, and health care.
Black Lives Matter.
Cultural Studies Department, Claremont Graduate University
Chair: Eve Oishi
Solidarity Statement and Commitments
The faculty of the History Department at Claremont Graduate University, state, clearly and definitively, that Black lives matter. We support, validate, and value Black lives and Black minds. We are committed to anti-racism, rebuke police brutality, and believe we must educate ourselves and others to fight racism in our local communities. We take as one of our primary roles as historians, in this moment and always, to provide our students with the critical skills to study and understand the historical development and maintenance of power structures and hierarchies, both in the United States and globally. We also assume our role to follow in the words of Lonnie Bunch, “History is a guide to a better future and demonstrates that we can become a better society—but only if we collectively demand it from each other and from the institutions responsible for administering justice.” Thus, we commit to:
- Providing courses which analyze systemic oppression, the history of racism, and/or histories of marginalization
- Developing systems and practices of support for students of marginalized groups to succeed in our department, as well as working collaboratively with initiatives at the School of Arts and Humanities and CGU-levels
- Advocating for and participating in the constant evaluation of CGU’s institutional processes (such as hiring, retention, and programming) to better address the demands and needs of current and future students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities of marginalized groups
Chair: Joshua Goode
The faculty of the Department of Religion at Claremont Graduate University stand in solidarity with those who protest police brutality. We stand in solidarity with the calls for police reforms and demilitarization of the police, and with those who demand justice for Black lives. Black lives matter, today and every day.
As philosophers, theologians, historians, and cultural interpreters, we recognize and decry the grave injustices perpetrated against people of color in this country. Recent events are a poignant reminder to us that too many of our fellow citizens are neither seen nor heard, and we commit to doing a better job—in our scholarship as well as in our teaching—of recognizing and calling out systemic injustices. That commitment includes pursuing the transformation in our society and culture at all levels—systemic and otherwise. We must, and shall, change unspoken “ground rules” and speak “truth to power.”
President Trump demeaned the faith and practice of an Episcopal congregation when he harmed the bodies of protestors brazenly cleared from his path in pursuit of a recent photo opportunity. As scholars of religion, we are attentive to the ways religious traditions are experienced by those who embrace them, and therefore, we support the clergy and congregants of St John’s Episcopal Church whose community the president flagrantly disrespected.
Religion Department, Claremont Graduate University
Chair: Tammi Schneider
As a formal statement of solidarity, the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards offers this blog.
The rich tradition of American poetry and poetics would be nothing without Black poets. If you claim to be an avid lover and reader of American poetry, you must read Black poets. If you teach poetry, your syllabus should be chock-full of Black poets. If you are a poet, you need to learn from Black poets’ craft.
So buy their books. Read their work. Attend their readings. Ask your institutions to hire them. See to it that they are given tenure and opportunities for funding. Demand the boards of whatever foundation/organization to support them—better yet, demand that they have seats on those boards. Call out the publishers who do not publish enough Black poets. Call out the publishing companies who do not have enough Black publishers. Call out the panels, schools, and/or events that do not care to invite Black poets, or use them to perform empty displays of “diversity.” The list goes on and on.
The literary world and academia is guilty of not prizing the work and scholarship of Black poets and thinkers for what they are worth—if that were the case, English departments and the publishing world would look very, very different. If you are for Black lives, you are for Black poets. If you are for Black poets, there are actionable steps to take in whatever institutions you are a part of to support them.
Here’s a small list of books/poems by Black poets that I’ve been reading/re-reading as of late:
—The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay
—“Stay Safe” by Luther Hughes
—Magical Negro by Morgan Parker
—Thief in the Interior by Phillip B. Williams
—The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May
—“Mirror” by Rita Dove
—“Let my anger be the celebration we were never / supposed to have.” and “Living on a ghost Plantation / Love Poem” by Natasha Oladokun
—“Arco” by Faylita Hicks
—Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins
—“The Current Isolationism” by Camille Rankine
—“Badu Interviews Lamar” by Camonghne Felix
If you want to see a list of previous Black Tufts Award winners, click here to read the list.
The majority of poets on this list have been published in Poetry Magazine and their work is linked to the Poetry Foundation’s website. Write the Poetry Foundation and ask them to donate to bail funds and Black Lives Matter. Ask them to be be explicit about their support of Black lives. Many, many pages of Poetry Magazine would be empty without Black poets—they need to show up with their purse.
The movement is not a moment—Black Lives Matter.
The Registrar’s Office of CGU stands in solidarity with all who speak out and act against racial injustice and white supremacy, and we bear witness to the pain of centuries of racial oppression and inequity. Recent brutal actions have again highlighted the effects of longstanding structural racism. We see the feelings of frustration, hurt, and anger across America and it is all too clear that racism and violence toward people of color are deeply embedded in our history and culture. It is also clear that this is perpetuated when those with a voice stay silent and comfortable. The Registrar’s Office has no interest in silence or complicity. We wish to be clear that all lives will not matter until Black lives do. We must do better. We must be better.
This is the time for everyone who loves America and cares deeply about its values to speak out. We acknowledge there is still much work to be done, but we are committed to positive change and we recognize that we each have a role to play. We resolve that long after the current news cycle has moved on, to re-commit every day to being strong allies, educating ourselves whenever and wherever we can, and to ensuring that each person in the CGU community is welcomed and respected equally.
We remember the powerful quote by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall: “Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”
The faculty and staff of the Claremont Graduate University School of Arts and Humanities wish to assert, clearly and unreservedly, that Black lives matter. As scholars and creators, we know that our job is to learn as much as it is to teach, and so we are committed to scholarship that leads to action. We are humbled by the task that lies before us yet inspired by the many people whose voices, long silenced, speak of the urgent need for justice in our communities and in the world.
Please see the statements issued by our departments and programs, which apply their particular humanist, artistic, and creative insights and commitments to SAH’s pledge overall: to practice anti-racism, to condemn institutional violence, and to honor Black voices, artistic expression, history, culture, and social experience — in our recruitment, admissions, pedagogy, research, hiring, and retention.
Lori Anne Ferrell, Dean
SAH Steering Committee
Claremont Graduate University, School of Community and Global Health
Statement on Racism as a Threat to Public Health
June 10, 2020
The disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 deaths among African-Americans coupled with the senseless, brutal police killing of George Floyd and recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are sobering reminders of the peril associated with simply being born black in the United States.
In African-American communities across the nation, the historical trauma of slavery is intergenerational, pervasive and complementary to the scourge of racism. Both structural and institutional racism influence political and economic processes that too often limit the degree to which many African-Americans and other ethnically diverse groups can access a quality education, safe housing, gainful employment and affordable health care. Moreover, racism serves as a major driver of health inequities, which contribute significantly to high morbidity and mortality rates among African-Americans and other underserved groups.
At the Claremont Graduate University, School of Community and Global Health, we acknowledge that racism has been and continues to be a public health crisis of historic proportion. We denounce racism in all forms and are committed to doing our part to address it.
We specifically support reforms to current law enforcement practices that unjustly target and, all too often, maim and kill innocent young black and brown men and women. To that end, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
As a faculty dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of our surrounding and underserved communities, we stand ready to fight for what is right and just. The litany of deaths of black and brown men and women culminating in the harrowing events of recent months have compelled us to self-reflect, examine our own biases, challenge old ways of thinking and ponder new avenues of research, teaching and advocacy, while also engaging communities with compassion and respect through a social justice lens.
As a School of Community and Global Health, it is our passion and responsibility to provide our students, staff, faculty and community partners with a proactive and safe learning environment that is actively inclusive. We invite our students, CGU colleagues, faculty from the Claremont Colleges as well as leaders of community and faith-based organizations to join us in ongoing dialogue about ways in which we can work collaboratively to improve health and overall quality of life in every community.
Dear Colleagues, Friends & Supporters of the School of Educational Studies Community:
As the dean of Claremont Graduate University’s School of Educational Studies (SES), I want to offer my perspectives on the chaos of the past week and vehemently denounce acts of racism and violence against the black community. We are a school whose mission is grounded in the ideals of social justice and educational equity. The synergistic thread that connects all of the school’s various programs is the common commitment to educational equity & excellence, social justice, diversity, empowerment, and wellness.
Given the mission of the SES and the foci of my life’s work, making such a statement should be easy. But somehow it is not. Finding the right words to capture the complexity of my sentiments is hard. My words ring inadequate even to my own ears.
The level of hatefulness, violence and disregard for humanity that has played out this past week on the news leaves me dumbfounded, sad, confused, angry and disoriented. So does the awful sense that we’ve been here before.
George Floyd’s name is just the latest addition to an all-too-long-list that includes the names of Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Matthew Shepard, Tamir Rice, Yusor Abu-Salha, and countless members of our communities. That list is disproportionately filled with people of color (especially black males and indigenous women), members of the LGBTQ+ community, those who don’t speak English as their native tongue, non-Christians, those without secure immigration status, and the poor. (Shaun R. Harper speaks of the data around these vile incidents in a May 31 letter to the AERA Community.) To me, this is simply unacceptable. We cannot sit idly by as bigots bully and wage a reign of terror over others. Institutional racism and sanctioned oppression must be rooted out.
As I watch peaceful protests turn into violent melees and see mothers vexing over how to keep the spirits and bodies of their children intact, I am convinced more than ever that the work we are doing in the School of Educational Studies is relevant and imperative. We need to continue to build and fortify a cadre of committed individuals adept at expunging oppression and replacing it with dignity, opportunity, and hope.
With this in mind, I hope you will join us for an online event on Monday, June 8, 2020, at 5 p.m. Please invite your friends, family and colleagues.
Professor Torie Weiston-Serdan (director of the SES’s MA in Community Engaged Education & Social Change)and I will co-host a virtual symposium titled Reimagining Community & Solidarity – Critiquing the George Floyd Tragedy and Identifying Actions for the Future We Want. The symposium stems from an understanding that higher education has a role in facilitating important community conversations.
Joining us as panelists will be a number of colleagues, including:
- Bettina Love, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Theory & Practice, University of Georgia. https://bettinalove.com
- Kaleb Rashad, Director, Creative Leadership, High Tech High Graduate School of Education. www.kalebrashad.com
- Linda Perkins, Associate Professor, School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University. https://www.cgu.edu/people/linda-perkins/
- J. Luke Wood, Associate Vice President for Faculty Diversity & Inclusion and Distinguished Professor of Education, San Diego State University. https://jlukewood.com
- Jamira Burley, Head, Youth Engagement and Skills for the Global Business Coalition for Education. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamira_Burley
To register to attend the symposium, go to https://bit.ly/2XnkGXv. You will be asked for your first name and email (these are the only mandatory fields). Once you have registered, you will receive a link to the zoom event.
As part of the registration process, you will have the opportunity to submit specific questions you’d like the panelists to consider addressing. Questions received before 11am on Thursday, June 4, will be passed the panelist prior to the event. (Depending upon time, there also may be the opportunity to ask questions in the second half of the symposium.)
We hope that the symposium will be attended by a wide variety of people. Afterall, bringing about change and social justice isn’t done in only one way or one arena. Some of us will do this work as K-12 teachers and leaders; others will do it as student service professionals helping to ensure that college campuses are beacons of equity and excellence; some will serve as data analysts, skilled at pulling narratives from data to shape conversations, practices and policies; and still others will do it through their community activism, research and the professoriate. Each of us will find our own place. What matters is that we bring integrity to our work and collectively shine a light on issues of importance. That is how we can create a tipping point.
I hope to see you at the virtual symposium. If not, please know I am also available if you’d like to connect individually.
Until then, I stand in solidarity and community with you.
DeLacy Derin Ganley, PhD | Dean & Professor, School of Educational Studies