From the Office of AdvanceRIT: A Statement of Solidarity (June 12, 2020)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in his “I Have a Dream” speech said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Black Lives Matter. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, and many more whose lives were recently unjustly taken by police. We take a stand against police brutality. We take a stand against racism.
The Office of AdvanceRIT is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at RIT. We have a responsibility to act on this commitment. Silence is not an option. Action is needed. There is work to do, both with the work of AdvanceRIT and with all of our work at RIT.
On June 10th, there was a call for STEM professionals and for academics to take this day to reflect and develop an action plan. This initiative is referred to as #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia. I took that day to reflect, research, listen and work on this statement. I call for each of you to hear the stories of our colleagues about their experiences in academia and consider personal actions you can take to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter. On Twitter, experiences in higher education are being shared by black academics ranging from microaggressions to physical threats with #BlackInTheIvory. AdvanceRIT has presented workshops on Bystander Awareness and Action. Attached is a tip sheet for how to be an Effective Bystander. We will continue to think about the context of what constitutes effective action as bystander awareness trainings do not address the structural and systematic inequities that exist in higher education (Your Unconscious Bias Trainings Keep Failing Because You’re Not Addressing Systemic Bias).
We recognize the additional burden and challenges for women of color who simultaneously experience racism and sexism in their academic careers. Here are suggested readings.
- RIT’s: Crawford and Smith (2005) The we and the us: Mentoring African American Women
- Owusu (2020). Women of Color in Academia Often Work Harder for Less Respect.
- Prescod-Weinstein (2020). Making Black Women Scientists under White Empiricism: The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 45(2), 421-447.
- Mirza (2014) Decolonizing Higher Education: Black Feminism and the Intersectionality of Race and Gender
- Flores Niemann, Gutiérrez y Muhs, González, (Eds.) 2020 Presumed Incompetent II: Race, Class, Power, and Resistance of Women in Academia, Utah State University Press.
We encourage you to review the suggestions for personal actions compiled by 500WomenScientists, whose mission is to make science open, inclusive, and accessible.
To the members of the RIT community of color who are hurting; we see you, we value you, we support you, and we are committed to taking a stand against racism. AdvanceRIT commits to amplifying, elevating and celebrating the voices of our faculty, staff and students of color. We commit to making RIT a welcoming and inclusive community for all.