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Why We RISE

The mission of the RISE is to advance intersectional racial justice and equity in PK-12 and postsecondary educational institutions by bringing together researchers, practitioners, community members, and other educational stakeholders.

Using an intersectional lens, the Center understands racism as a system that is intertwined with other structures of oppression (e.g., sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.) that functions to (re)produce social injustices.

In alignment with CSU’s land-grant mission, the Center works collaboratively and in partnership with communities of praxis to identify, analyze, disrupt, and redress the effects of structural and systemic racism on individuals and communities in schools and universities, as well as educational practices and policies.

CHHS student holds up diploma at commencement ceremony

A Statement from RISE Scholars

The faculty and staff of the Race and Intersectional Studies for Educational Equity (RISE) Center in the School of Education were harmed, hurt, dismayed, and frustrated by the display of blackface by white students at Colorado State University. We also recognize the deep harm inflicted on students, faculty, and staff—namely those who identify as Black or African American. We see you, and we commit to working with you through our research and leadership to confront and dismantle the persistent and pervasive cultures and systems of racism on our campus and elsewhere.

The RISE Center is a community of researchers in the School of Education whose work interrogates educational structures and practices that reproduce racial oppression in intersectional ways. Unfortunately, many of us were not surprised by this blackface incident, which is just one of many racist experiences that racially marginalized students, staff, and faculty in higher education face on a daily basis. Some are reported, but many are not. These racist incidents represent and unveil pervasive cultures and climates of racial domination, and particularly in this specific instance, anti-Black racism and ideologies in higher education.

As RISE Co-Director and Student Affairs and Higher Education (SAHE) Professor and Co-Chair D-L Stewart has demonstrated in his work, blackface is not new on college campuses. It has a long and violent anti-Black racist history in the United States. Blackface—what some white students (and their families) believe to be simply an act of “poor judgement during a moment of silliness”—represents a violent history and contemporary realities of dehumanizing racism that serves to perpetuate white supremacy. It communicates who belongs on our campus, and who does not. None of this is “silly.”

Colorado State University prominently displays its Principles of Community in published materials and on campus. These principles communicate values of Inclusion, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Social Justice. As the recent blackface incident and RISE Center faculty research and teaching expertise demonstrate, it is easier for universities to state such values than to effectively engage in the deep systemic and cultural changes necessary to live these principles.

The RISE Center and School of Education commend the Colorado State University students, faculty, and staff who have organized and marched to protest against racism on our campus. We appreciate that College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Lise Youngblade has also articulated a commitment to equity and diversity. In the coming days, weeks, and years, we know there is a lot of work to be done to heal and to disrupt and dismantle systemic racism on our campus. It is critical that we continue to interrogate and work to dismantle the ever-present culture and systems of racism that produce moments of crisis like this one.

The RISE Center and School of Education includes research experts and leaders in higher education, change, and campus racial climate, ready and willing to work with campus leaders to foster a more equitable campus. As President McConnell stated at the Fall 2019 Address, “We must do better – we must join together to rise.”

What We Do

Asset 3 Research

We support rigorous research and inquiry to advance intersectional racial justice and equity in education.

Asset 370 Impact

We engage in strategic partnerships to produce impacts nationally, at Colorado State University and throughout Colorado.

Asset 145 Engage

We support, facilitate, and amplify publicly engaged research and scholar-activism.

Making and Impact RISE Center News