Dear Campus Community,
My heart goes out to members of our community who are hurting right now. At a time when we want to share hugs and grieve together, it is not possible. At a time when we want to gather to pray and heal, we have to practice social distancing. This moment is made especially difficult because so much has caused our pain and anguish. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our community carry hundreds of years of trauma caused by systemic racism, social injustice and violence.
This is a moment that should move us to recommit to equity, social justice, anti-racism and inclusion with greater intention. Without that commitment and intention we are bound to continue to live our past history. We must do better!
Recently, as individuals have spoken about racial injustice in this country they have often said that it is not enough to be “not racist”, but that we need to be “anti-racist.” Ibram X. Kendi, in his book, How to be an Anti-racist says the following:
The opposite of racist isn’t “not racist.” It is “anti-racist.” What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.”
- Understand the definition of racist.
- Stop saying “I’m not a racist”.
- Identify racial inequities and disparities
- Confront the racist ideas you’ve held or continue to hold.
- Understand how your anti-racism needs to be intersectional.
- Champion antiracist ideas and policies.
We have gathered a number of resources to help our community learn more about systemic racism, African American history, and how each of us can work to become anti-racist and create an inclusive Cal Poly.
Dr. Jozi De Leon
Vice President for University Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer
Learn more about the history of Black people in the United States, the struggle for civil rights, and how systemic racism and institutionalized White supremacy affects Black and African Americans.
Watch these videos to enhance your own understanding of race, racism, and structural racism in the United States.
• An MIT Librariesconversationwith Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? about the current state of race relations in the United States, and what can be done to create a more equitable society.
• The seminal PBS documentary seriesEyes on the Prizedocuments the Civil Rights movement from perspective of those who participated in it (requires creating a free account). You can guide your own viewing, or prompt discussion with others using this extensiveviewer guide.
• Ava DuVernay’s documentary13thon YouTube or on Netflix shows the role the 13th Amendment to the Constitution plays in perpetuating White supremacy, racial inequality, and in the creation of the system of mass incarceration that has disproportionately affected Black and African American men. Use thisDiscussion Guideto help organize your thoughts or facilitate a discussion with others.
• Presented in three, one-hour-long videos, Race: The Power of an Illusion is an extensive and illuminating documentary that uncovers the historical, social, and cultural foundations of racial categories and racism in the United States.
• Watch the videos from the CPX Distinguished Speaker Series, including Dr. Derald Wing Sue’s talk on microaggressions and implicit bias, and Dr. Damon Williams’ Principles of Everyday Inclusion and Primer on Diverse Faculty and Staff Recruitment and Retention
The books listed below offer a foundation to learn more about the history of race, racism, and structural racism in the United States, how to interrogate Whiteness, and work to undermine systems of power and oppression that privilege White people and disadvantage Black and people of color.
Kennedy Library has also developed a new resource, the Inclusive Excellence: Resources for Learning About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion libguide. These curated resources provide a foundation for students, faculty, and staff to learn more about Inclusive Excellence and important diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.
*Books with an asterisk are available online via Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library
Non-Fiction & History
• Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum – Uncovers the psychology of racism to help readers find ways of discussing race and racism in America.
• From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation*Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor – Delves into the historical roots of contemporary structural inequalities such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment.
• How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Editor) – A collection of reflections from the original Combahee River Collective on Black feminism and its impact on today’s society.
• Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – Provides an extensive and expansive retelling of American history grounded in the lives and views of influential intellectuals from Cotton Mather to Angela Davis.
• How to be Anti-Racist* Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – By integrating ethics, history, law, and science, How to be Anti-Racist helps readers to reconceptualize their views of themselves and how they can contribute to an anti-racist society.
• The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – Outlines the history and lasting legacy of Black student movements on American college campuses between 1965 and 1972.
• Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches*Audre Lorde – A collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde that uncovers the persistence of inequality in society.
• Women, Race, & Class Dr. Angela Davis – An examination of how the women’s liberation movement in the United States has been tainted by racism and classism.
• Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City*Dr. Matthew Desmond – Through his extensive ethnographic research documenting evictions in a Midwestern city, Desmond uncovers how race, class, and gender intersect and disproportionately affect Black women’s experiences in housing.
• So You Want to Talk About Race Ijeoma Oluo – Oluo answers some of the commonly asked questions about race.
• White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism* Dr.Robin DiAngelo – Introduces White fragility as a series of responses to being challenged about race and racism, as well as ways to respond to White fragility in a more constructive way.
• Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race Reni Eddo-Lodge – Through her lens as a woman of color in the UK, Eddo-Lodge uncovers the connections between contemporary racial disparities and
• Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism Dr. Safiya U. Noble – Uncovers how human bias is encoded in Internet search engines in ways that harm people of color, women, and women of color in particular.
• Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code* Dr. Ruha Benjamin – Explores how emerging technologies help reinforce existing racial power imbalances in society. [Use your Cal Poly login to watch Dr. Benjamin’s keynote for the 2020 Teach On! here.]
• The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Michelle Alexander – Provides an in-depth analysis of the War on Drugs and “Tough-on-Crime” laws and policies that have recreated Jim Crow-style criminalization of Black men in particular, and their roles in cementing and exacerbating inequalities through mass incarceration.
• The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America* Khalil Gibran Muhammad – Refocuses attention on the development of the modern conceptualization of Black criminality by examining the Northern cities.
• A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America Ronald Takaki – Offers a retelling of American history that centers the lives, voices, and experiences of people of color.
• Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor* Layla F. Saad – Offers a guide for White people to examine their personal relationship to White privilege, and how they can help dismantle it.
• Between the World and Me Ta-Nehisi Coates – A book-length letter to the author’s son outlining his life experiences and how race affects Black people in the United States.
• The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration Isabel Wilkerson – Details the stories of three African Americans’ journeys from the Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi to New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago during the Jim Crow era.
• Race on Campus: Debunking Myths With Data Julie J. Park – Addresses that myths of self-segregation, affirmative action in admissions, and that working-class students have been failed by camps diversity efforts have failed students and institutions.
• Racism Without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America Eduardo Bonilla-Silva – Provides an in-depth analysis of colorblind ideology, and how it is constructed to account for and justify racism and racial inequalities.
• White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide*Carol Anderson – Chronicles the history of African Americans from Reconstruction to the present day and how White people have exercised their institutional power to undermine progress.
Fiction & Poetry
• Kindred Octavia Butler
• The Fire Next Time and If Beale Street Could Talk James Baldwin
• The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead
• Don’t Call Us Dead and Homie Danez Smith
• Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
• Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
• Beloved and The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
• Homegoing Yaa Gyasi
Listen to these podcasts to learn more about the historical roots of contemporary systems of racial inequality in the United States and how you can help to change these systems to be more just and equitable.
• 1619 The New York Times – A series of episodes about race in America, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones.
• White Lies NPR – Tells the story of a murder of Rev. James Reeb in 1965 and the long reach of its implications today.
• Code Switch NPR – A podcast about race in America.
• Still Processing The New York Times – Discusses the intersections of the arts and race.
• Speaking of Racism – Frank, honest, and respectful discussions about racism in the United States.
• Yo, Is This Racist? – Answers listeners’ questions about whether things are, in fact, racist.
• Seeing White – A 14-part documentary series exploring what Whiteness is and means in contemporary American Society
It is always the right time to do the right thing. Taking action can manifest in many ways, from learning more about the history of Black people and African Americans, to how institutional racism persists and is perpetuated, to contacting your elected officials, talking to your friends and family about racism, or participating in a march in support of the Movement for Black Lives.
An active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group (Source:The Anti-Oppression Network)
Allyship is a process, not a destination or an identity that can be claimed. Allyship requires building, sustaining, and nurturing relationships of trust with marginalized individuals or groups that is based in consistency (i.e., standing in solidarity and using your privileges to undermine oppression all the time, not just when it’s convenient or popular), and accountability (i.e., listening to and internalizing critiques of shortcomings and taking responsibility for your own learning and knowledge gaps)
Develop your understanding of how systemic oppression and racism manifest, and what roles you play in upholding and perpetuating those systems:
- Seattle Human Service Coalition’s Identifying Institutional Racism Folio (pp. 7-22)
- Solid Ground’s Definition and Analysis of Institutional Racism
- Teaching Tolerance’s What is White Privilege Anyway?
- Dr. Francis E. Kendall’s Understanding White Privilege
- Dr. Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Contact your elected officials and demand they take action to address systemic racism. You can find the contact for your elected officials here.
• Donate funds to organizations that work to advance racial equity and justice, including Cal Poly’s Black Student Union, National Society of Black Engineers, and the Black Academic Excellence Center.
•Learn how to show allyship when you don’t know what to do.
• If you are White, use this guide to direct a conversation with other White people about race, racism and systemic racism, and social inequities.
• Learn more about implicit bias and what you can do to address your own biases by watching this video by Drs. Patricia Devine and William Cox. You can guide your learning or facilitate a discussion with other viewers using this discussion guide.
• Learn more about the Cal Poly Cross Cultural Centers and sign up for their Newsletter to stay up-to-date with their programming and announcements.
• Stay up to date with Cal Poly’s Black Academic Excellence Center (BAEC).
• Sign up for the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion Monthly Newsletter to learn more about diversity and inclusion speakers, events, and programs happening around the university.
• Sign up for a Book and Learning Circle and join other Cal Poly faculty and staff in discussion around a diversity-related book.
• Review CTLT’s Inclusive Educator Book List of from past book circles and read a new title.
• Faculty can learn more about creating an inclusive classroom and inclusive teaching practices on the Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom website.
• Review the CTLT’s resources on Responding to Distressing Events in the classroom.