As protests, rallies and marches continue across the nation demanding justice for the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have announced the institution’s next steps toward combating racism and anti-blackness.
“The past days have been witness to a groundswell of public resolve to stand with Black Americans against institutional and structural racism,” writes President Joyce P. Jacobsen and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Khuram Hussain in a June 9 letter to the HWS community. “Popular discourse is starting to echo what Black communities have said at the margins of power for centuries. From David Walker’s 1829 Appeal to Alicia Garza’s 2013 #blacklivesmatter, racial justice is a long time coming. This is a moment that calls upon us all to learn, teach and act.”
Supplementing the Colleges’ Strategic Diversity Plan, HWS invites community members to engage this moment through the following events, resources and programs:
- On Saturday, June 13, the Colleges will host the first in a series of virtual teach-ins on racial justice: “Voices of protest and love: Liberatory Knowledge in the Hour of George Floyd.” Featuring Geneva’s wealth of educators, scholars and activists, the teach-in, Professor Virgil Slade explains, will ask: “What does true liberation mean? Does it mean the same thing for each of us? How do we go about achieving it? Who does the ‘educating’? Which voices are privileged and which are silenced? These are vexed and contested questions but when you live in a society where too many are taken from us too often, in a place where even requests to breathe are fatally ignored, these are conversations that we cannot afford to delay.” This program is co-sponsored by Africana Studies and The Office of Intercultural Affairs.
- The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has posted a series of resources on its website in recognition of what public health advocates and scholars have long described as the public health crisis that is the “pervasive and lethal force of white supremacy.” In the face of the double-harm of COVID-19 and institutional racism, the Black Community Care webpage will regularly update resources for supporting the well-being and survival for Black students, faculty, staff and the wider community. The list of resources will be added to in the weeks and months ahead.
- The DEI webpage also features Anti-Racism Resources to connect HWS community members to literature and teaching material created by educators of color for teaching about race and racism.
- Fatim Cisse ’23 has organized a bi-weekly “Hour of Power” to support students of color in building self-knowledge and self-love.
- In partnership with the HWS Afro Latino Alumni/ae Association, DEI will launch a series of initiatives to engage alums and students in shared community building. The series begins on Friday, June 19, with a Juneteenth conversation between Black HWS alums and Black students titled “Each One Reach One: The Future of Black Solidarity at HWS.” Details and registration information will be announced later this week.
- DEI is offering micro-grants of up to $500 to students, faculty and staff who have an idea for an initiative or program that addresses Goal 5 of the Strategic Diversity Plan on Community Development. Applications will be open starting June 12 on the DEI webpage.
For more information on the Colleges’ DEI initiatives, or to share resources or suggestions, contact the office at (315) 781-4555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.