Combating Systemic Racism:
Resources for the Community

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” –Ijeoma Oluo, from So You Want to Talk about Race

Programs & Announcements

Below is a look at recent and upcoming programs and announcements for the Sarah Lawrence community. Stay tuned for information on upcoming programs and events.

A Message from Fatiah Touray, VP for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The e-mail below was sent to students, faculty, and staff on June 2, 2020.

Dear Sarah Lawrence Community,

The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others are heartbreaking manifestations of the systems of oppression and the structural racism that shape life in the U.S. Generations of bereft families and communities know too well that our national fear of black skin and the entitlement that comes with having white skin are the foundation of largely unacknowledged systemic racism that shortens and violently ends the lives of people of color.  Amidst the current global health crisis, more than 100,000 people have died in the U.S. Within this nation, Black, Indigenous, and Latiné people are sickening and dying at disproportionately high rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To quote Michelle Obama as she discusses race and racism in America, “If we ever hope to move past it, it can't be on people of color to deal with it. It is up to all of us—black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own.” As we self-examine we should ask ourselves these difficult questions and what Van Jones asks us to critically assess: What concrete actions are we taking in our everyday lives to fight against prejudice and promote belonging? How are we actively educating ourselves on the history and legacy of white supremacy in this country? How do we all together create a society where those with black bodies can live life without fear?

President Judd ended her letter to the community this weekend by stating that “naming injustice is not enough, but to ignore injustice is to perpetuate it.” Many of you have written to ask about the things you can do to institute change.  Here are some action steps you can take:

Participate: Dissent is a critical component of a liberal arts education. Protest is a powerful form of expression of dissent; march if you feel moved to do so.  Please be safe: there is guidance for safe practice at protests (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) herehere, and here.  If you are unable to march, write, speak, talk to others—find ways to make your voice heard.

Educate: If you are not familiar with the deep history and legacy of violence against the Black community in the United States, and how this has a powerful impact on the lives of all Black Americans, this is a good time to study. For history, we’d recommend Ibrahim X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning or Jill Nelson’s Police Brutality: An Anthology as places to start.  For policy proposals to reform policing, see Campaign Zero. If poetry is where you’d like to start, read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen or Evie Shockley’s “can’t unsee.” If you prefer podcasts, try this episode of Code Switch, or an episode of the Ezra Klein podcast on health disparities by race. If you have access to Netflix you can watch The 13th or When They See Us. You can also plan to take a  course with our Sarah Lawrence faculty in Africana Studies and Ethnic and Diasporic Studies and be part of conversations about race taking place across our curriculum at the College.

Support: If you have the means, lend support to those who are struggling. This can take the form of simple outreach and emotional support. It can involve volunteering for efforts to reform the justice system and make it more equitable. It can mean contributing to efforts to support protests or support communities that have been impacted by the protests. One of  SLC's core values is being an inclusive, intellectually curious, and diverse community. We will continue to ensure that these values appear in our institutional policies and educational priorities, and we can use the lessons of these events to examine and propose a continuous change.

Throughout the coming weeks, we will provide additional virtual opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to come together for support and engagement. A resources page on MySLC is forthcoming. If you need further support, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or the Health and Wellness Center.

In Solidarity,

Fatiah Touray
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Special Assistant to the President

Many of of the sources listed in this e-mail were recommendations from the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers Consortium

Race and Racism Series: Community Gathering

This gathering of more than 200 students, faculty, and staff, held on June 5, 2020, served as a moment of reflection about the ongoing violence against black bodies in this country and the public health crisis that is racism in America. Participants had the opportunity to hear experiences from members of our own community and engaged in discourse about their experiences and taking action to make changes in the SLC community.  

Did you miss the community gathering? Read these reflections shared by our community members.

Healing in Action: A Student of Color Gathering

Held on June 11, this student event served as a space to process, start the path towards healing, and identify action steps that we all can take in addressing anti-Blackness in our spheres of influence.

SLC Community-wide Day of Reflection and Action (June 12)

The College designated Friday, June 12, as a community-wide Day of Reflection and Action as one of our responses to systemic racism and persistent injustice. All meetings and other scheduled events were cancelled. Community members were asked to spend their day educating themselves or others, participating or volunteering, or engaging in those activities that are meaningful to them. Community members were especially encouraged to engage in some of the recommended reading and options for civic involvement on this website. 

Race Talks: Racial Trauma & Loss with Dr. Anica Mulzac (June 15)

This event for the SLC community, on June 15 at 1 p.m., will be a space to talk about the physical and mental effects of racism and to provide useful tools for self-care. To participate in this event, please RSVP on GryphonLink.

Faculty and Staff of Color Virtual Talks: Part II (June 17)

On June 17 at 12:30 p.m., the second gathering of faculty and staff of color will take place (virtually). This is a space for faculty and staff of color to find strength in community during this time of turmoil. Faculty and staff who wish to participate in this event may RSVP on GryphonLink

Resources

Below you will find a list of resources—submitted by our faculty, students, staff, and alumni—aimed at facilitating discussions, exploration, and learning about race and racism in America. While this list is not exhaustive, it provides a valuable starting point for individuals who wish to expand their understanding. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to share additional resources with the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team via MySLC.

Free Resources

Activism, Education, and Mental Health

Books

Artwork

Music

Podcasts

Social Media

Where to Donate

  • The Innocence Project: “Exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.”
  • Black Lives Matter: “A global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
  • Brooklyn Bail Fund: “Brooklyn Community Bail Fund is committed to challenging the racism, inequality, and injustice of a criminal legal system and immigration and deportation regime that disproportionately target and harm low-income communities of color.”
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.”
  • Equal Justice Initiative: “Committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund: “Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space.”

Articles and Papers