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Assist in Creating a Welcoming and Safe Climate for SDSU's African-American Community

On April 11, 2019, the SDSU Academic Senate unanimously passed a resolution on “Fostering a Welcoming and Safe Campus Climate for African-American Students” in response to an egregious act of anti-Black racism at SDSU. Over one hundred Black faculty, students, staff, and allies walked from the Black Resource Center to the Senate meeting to express support for the resolution and to call attention to the issues facing Black community members at SDSU. Just a few days later, sometime between the evening of Friday, April 12, and the morning of Sunday, April 14, vandals broke into the Black Resource Center and destroyed property. No one was reportedly injured, and no students or staff members were present at the time.

Although these incidents have targeted SDSU’s Black students, they reflect systems of thought and behavior that harm many communities--including those who perpetrate them. This is why responsibility for changing the campus climate must not fall on African-American students, faculty, and staff alone. Every member of our SDSU community can respond by pledging to make lasting change. As home to one of the first African-American / Africana Studies departments in the nation, we have a proud tradition to build upon. But we cannot fulfill our mission as a leading public research university if our campus is unsafe and unwelcoming to Black students, faculty, staff, and community, or if we fail to educate all SDSU students for success in a diverse twenty-first century world.

What can you do to contribute to lasting change? We invite you to join more than 800 SDSU faculty, staff, and administrators, including President Adela de la Torre, Provost Joseph Johnson, and Vice-Presidents Stephen Welter, Tom McCarron, Christy Samarkos, and Adrienne Vargas, in pledging to take action to make lasting change.

The campus will follow up by email with specific information and resources to support you.

 Other Ways to Support

Register for a course in Africana Studies

The following Africana Studies courses offered during Fall 2019 meet undergraduate General Education requirements:

  • Africana Studies 101: Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Africana Studies 120: Composition
  • Africana Studies 140: Oral Communication
  • Africana Studies 240: Africana Intellectual Thought
  • Africana Studies 260: Africana Literary Study
  • Africana Studies 320: Political Economy of the African Diaspora
  • Africana Studies 421: Black Urban Experience
  • Africana Studies 455: Africana Class, Gender, and Sexualities
  • Africana Studies 473: Women in Africa 

To determine if these courses fit your Fall 2019 schedule and review prerequisites, click here.

Participate in faculty implicit bias training

Attend one training on inclusive campus climate.

Implicit bias refers to social attitudes or stereotypes that can affect our understanding and actions without our conscious knowledge, impacting our interactions with colleagues and students and processes such as hiring and evaluation. Throughout September, the Professors of Equity in Education will offer two-hour workshops on implicit bias. Register here. 

Develop a course assignment relevant to African-American experience, history, culture, and / or well-being.

Faculty may present any range of assignments, and Sample course assignments include:

  • In-class reflection: Ask students to use their imaginations to visualize last year’s Nobel Prize (or other major prize) winner in your discipline or field, then write a brief description of the person they imagine. Invite your students to reflect on how they imagined the identity of the prizewinner and what this may indicate about equity and inclusion in higher education, research, scholarship, and/or the arts.
  • In-class reflection: Introduce the concept of racial disparities: differences in life chances (for example, the likelihood that an individual will have access to education, wealth, and good health, or experience poor health, incarceration, or early death) tied to one’s identification with an historically advantaged or disadvantaged social group. Choose one measure relevant to your course of study--for example, life expectancy, incarceration rates, maternal mortality, infant mortality, wealth, access to health care, educational attainment, school discipline--and share racial disparity data with your class. Ask students to do two minutes of in-class writing reflecting on this data and how it may impact the lives of SDSU students.
  • Short research project: Assign students to research and identify one African-American individual or an organization that advances African-American equity and inclusion in your discipline or field. Ask students to make a one-minute presentation about the organization and its history, or Assign students to research the individual and provide a one-minute presentation about their experiences, challenges, and accomplishments.
  • Supplementary reading report: Assign students to read one text from the Pledge recommended readings list, and submit a one-page report drawing connections between the reading and course materials and outcomes.

Books, substantial articles and videos on racial inequality in American life

The following resources present top-quality journalism or peer-reviewed scholarship by nationally-reputed and prize-winning authors. This is a selected list, incorporating recommendations by SDSU faculty and SDSU outreach librarian Gloria Rhodes. We also thank the faculty members in the Department of Women’s Studies and the College of Education who will be adding recommended readings to their syllabi for fall semester.

Thank you to our partners at KPBS for making available to all “The Talk: Race in America,” which documents the difficult conversations Black families in the United States have about public safety. (VIDEO; 2017)

How structural inequality impacts African-American communities—civil rights:
  • Alexander, M. (2012). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, The New Press. [Sociology, public affairs, law] (SDSU library link)
  • “The Talk: Race in America” (VIDEO; 2017)
  • Pippa Holloway (2013). Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship, Oxford University Press. [History, political science, law] (SDSU library link)
How structural inequality impacts African-American communities—financial well-being:
  • Baradaran, M. (2017). The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap, Harvard University Press. [Business, economics, law, history] (SDSU library link)
  • Coates, T.-N. (2014). "The case for reparations." The Atlantic 313(5): 54-71. [History, economics, public affairs, law] (SDSU library link)
  • Katznelson, Ira. (2006). When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (Norton) [Economics, law, history, sociology] (SDSU library link)
How structural inequality impacts African-American communities—children and families:
How structural inequality impacts white communities:
  • Anderson, C. (2016). White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, Bloomsbury Publishing. [History] (SDSU library link)
  • DiAngelo, R. (2018). White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Beacon Press. [Education, communication, community relations] (SDSU library link)
  • Metzl, Jonathan (2019). Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland. Basic Books. [Public health, psychology, sociology] (SDSU library link)

Resources for Upstanders

When bystanders who witness biased speech or conduct do not take action, negative consequences may follow. Targets may feel unsupported. Perpetrators may incorrectly believe they are in the majority. (Researchers call this “false consensus.”) Bystanders themselves may suffer negative emotional and physical health outcomes due to the stress of witnessing bias without taking action.

It is possible to make a difference by being an upstander and taking small actions researchers describe as “microinterventions.” When you witness biased speech or conduct, first, ask yourself what your goal is:

  • Disarm the situation by interrupting and changing the dynamics
  • Educate by sharing perspective or information
  • Make invisible dynamics visible to raise awareness
  • Support those who are impacted by biased words or actions

Then, consider whether a higher or lower intensity approach is appropriate:

  • Is this a one-time / first-time or recurring issue?
  • What is your relationship to the people involved? Are you in a position of responsibility (professor, supervisor, chair, older relative), a peer, or in a more vulnerable position?
  • How well do you know the people involved?
  • How urgent is the situation?
  • Is a public or private microintervention more likely to be effective?

Once you’ve determined a goal and considered the appropriate level of intensity, try one of these strategies:

Goal Higher intensity Medium Intensity Lower intensity
Disarm Confront: “That’s not okay.”
“That’s enough.”
“Stop.”
Clarify: “What you’ve said seems like a generalization. Am I hearing you correctly?”
“So, it sounds like your view is _________. Is that correct?”
 
Educate Disagree: “I don’t agree with what you said.”
“That’s not how I view it.”
“I see it another way.”
Appeal: “I know you really care about ____ and I do too, but acting in this way undermines your intentions.”  
Make it visible Interject: “Ouch.”
“Yikes.”
“Whoa.”
“What?”
Describe: “The things you say can make it difficult for me to focus on my work / spend time together.”
“What you said seems to have really changed the energy in the room. I would like to refocus on the task at hand.”
Signal: Shake your head, look down or away, raise your eyebrows.
Support   Amplify: As others step forward, follow their lead:
“I feel the same way.”
“I share their concerns.”
“Yes. What she said.”
 

Sources: Nelson, J. K., Dunn, K. M., & Paradies, Y. (2011). Bystander anti‐racism: A review of the literature. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 11(1), 263-284; Rini, R. (2018). How to Take Offense: Responding to Microaggression. Journal of the American Philosophical Association 4(3), 332 – 351; Sue, D., Alsaidi, S., Awad, M., Glaeser, E., Calle, C., & Mendez, N. (2019). Disarming Racial Microaggressions: Microintervention Strategies for Targets, White Allies, and Bystanders. American Psychologist, 74(1), 128-142.