Summer 2020 Rising Up Against Anti-Blackness and Racial Violence
A Joint Statement from the School of Education and RISE Center
The continued systematic violence and oppression against Black Americans is horrifying and traumatic as evidenced in the state-sanctioned and vigilante violence resulting in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, and Tony McDade. In response, a flood of emotions has gripped our community. Across the country, people are rising up against this violence and disregard for Black lives. These few names represent only the tip of the iceberg of systemic violence embedded in a long history of anti-Blackness and racism in our country.
We at the Colorado State University School of Education and RISE Center affirm the experiences of the Black members of our community and the deep pain of this raw wound of white supremacy. We have struggled to write a statement that adequately acknowledges this pain and that demonstrates that we stand with you and share the burden of this pain with you. We know that for this statement to have meaning, we have to fully commit to use our power and privilege to be change agents in our classrooms, on our campus, and in our community.
This commitment means conscientious work to understand the history of racism and its entrenchment in our social and educational systems, to understand our role in these systems, and to learn how to transform these systems within our classrooms and organizations.
Some resources to guide us in this ongoing work
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis
- The Next American Revolution by Grace Lee Boggs
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds
- This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
- We Want To Do More Than Survive by Bettina L. Love
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- “Books to help America transcend its racist heritage” by Ibram X Kendi (New York Times)
- “The Anti-Racist Reading List: 38 books for those open to changing themselves, and their world” by Ibram X Kendi (Atlantic Monthly)
*Please urge all libraries to purchase these books and books by Black authors for adults and children, and to make electronic versions available for free.
Resources on anti-racism professional development and education
- Scholars for Black Lives collective
- Teaching While White Podcast
- Black Lives Matter at School
- Teaching Tolerance
- we are working to extend anti-racist education
- The Anti-Defamation League
- Courageous Conversation
Community and family resources
- Movement for Black Lives
- Parenting for Liberation: Black women in support of loving and caring for Black children and Children of Color
- Woke Kindergarten: videos for our children and parents.
- Melanin and Mental Health: for suggestions on how to find an Anti-Racism therapist and counseling resources
We invite you to let us know what you need from the School of Education and RISE Center as we grapple with this national trauma. And we welcome suggestions for continuing our collective work in dismantling racism and transforming our institutions and communities as educational leaders.
In Peace and Solidarity,
The School of Education and RISE Center
Colorado State University
Fall 2019 A Statement Regarding Blackface and Incidents of Racism at CSU
The faculty and staff of the Race and Intersectional Studies for Educational Equity 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 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.”