When tragedy Strikes: Responding to Incidents that impact specific communities
Sadly, our campus, and the country as a whole, repeatedly experiences incidents of violence toward a particular group, often rooted in hate (and even when these are not hate crimes, the communities impacted are often still left living with grief). When these incidents happen, ALL members of our community are harmed, and ALL of us have a responsibility to support our targeted students, colleagues and classmates.
If you are part of a targeted group:
- Know that you are not alone. For students, SDSU's Cultural Centers and Counseling & Psychological Services stand ready to provide support. For faculty and staff, connect with our Employee Resource Groups or Employee Assistance Program;
- Employ the strategies in Surviving and Resisting Hate - A Toolkit for People of Color;
- See the University and Community Resource List for additional contacts for help and support;
- The page Resources For The BIPOC Community During The Chauvin Trial, compiled by the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, also has many resources for coping with the grief and trauma of targeted incidents.
If you want to be an ally:
- Do not ignore when events happen, whether on campus or elsewhere in the country. Simply acknowledging that something
has happened and that students and colleagues may have been impacted can be an important
signal of your support. This does not mean calling out individuals or making a major
change in your class or meeting plans, but you might consider the following:
- If a synchronous meeting/class follows a distressing event, take the time to make an statement at the beginning of that meeting, letting those present know that you heard what happened, acknowledging how that might make it hard to be present, and affirming your own commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space for everyone. Also, remind those present of the resources available to those who may need them (see above);
- Put a similar message on your Canvas course site, organizational website, and/or social media accounts;
- If you have members of the targeted group in your classes/meetings, simply be aware that they may be more distracted than usual. Depending on your relationship with individuals, you may want to check in with them privately, simply asking how they are doing (however, do not call out these individuals in any public or classroom setting, as that would not be appropriate). Keep in mind that everyone processes differently - some people will welcome an opportunity to discuss and debrief while others may prefer simply to "do normal". When in doubt, ask THEM what they prefer and respect their preference;
- Also see Counseling and Psychological Services' page Helping a Friend for guidelines about approaching and supporting those who may be in distress, and their booklet for faculty and staff on working with emotionally distressed students.
- When you personally witness incidents of bias, do not stay silent.
- If you feel safe intervening directly, be an upstander. This is not always easy but see the CIE resource page on Managing Challenging Conversations (and particularly the section about how to Manage the Moment) for some strategies and guidance.
- Report incidents of bias using the Inclusive SDSU system. Although reports can be submitted anonymously, providing some contact information will allow a representative from Campus Diversity to reach out to those who have been harmed to offer support and resources.
- Show your support in visible ways. Let targeted communities know that you support them and that you condemn hate and
bias. Here are some suggestions:
- Follow (and re-post from) their social media account and join mailing lists;
- Share news and events about these incidents on your own social media accounts;
- Join / donate to their organizations as well as other organizations that fight hate (for example, see the Advocacy groups listed in the Anti-Racist Reading and Resource List);
- Attend events sponsored by their organizations;
- Patronize businesses within and owned by targeted communities.
Finally, remember that promoting social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion is a continuous, on-going journey that requires reflection, vigilence, empathy and care. The Center for Inclusive Excellence strives to support our community in this work. Please contact us if there are additional resources or programming that you would like to see.