Black Lives Matter
Gavilan College English Instructors Stand in Solidarity with the #Black Lives Matter Movement
bell hooks: “To engage love is to oppose domination in all its forms”
In light of recent and past murders of Black people, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, killed at the hands of police, and Ahmaud Arbery, killed by white racists while out jogging, Gavilan English Department instructors sharing this statement affirm their solidarity with the #Black Lives Matter movement. We recognize that in addition to facing disproportionate levels of violence, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, and other people of color bear a higher burden of economic hardships, death, and illness from the COVID19 pandemic, and Asians and Pacific Islanders are experiencing racially-motivated violence as a result of hate speech and racist rhetoric perpetuated by many, including governing officials.
We acknowledge that our department includes a range of viewpoints and experiences regarding racism and antiracism education. Many of us are committed to antiracist work and to learning and growing and no longer unconsciously harming Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, and other students of color. We want to co-create brave spaces in our classrooms, facilitating open dialogue and academic discourse about race and social justice and learn to teach from antiracist perspectives. We recognize that our department is disproportionately composed of white instructors, and this imbalance exposes and exacerbates inequities. We are aware that instructors must expand in their abilities to teach in dialogue with their Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander and other colleagues and students of color.
We are committed to
- Listen, learn about, honor, and understand the backgrounds and cultures of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, and other students of color, and include this learning in our classrooms.
- Be aware that one result of racism is trauma; trauma impacts teaching and learning in ways that are often not immediately apparent or well understood
- Work with campus groups that advocate for LGBTQ+ folks, veterans, athletes, single mothers, and other vulnerable populations with the understanding that such groups are heavily impacted by racism and poverty.
- Be courageous in exploring and exposing structural racism on campus and in addressing inequities in curriculum and classroom practices.
- Engage in courageous conversations about racism and learn how to utilize antiracist perspectives and methods in our classrooms, department, and college.
- Advocate for policies and funding to improve education and increase access to mental health resources, financial aid, food programs, rent and anti-eviction relief while reducing police funding.
- Admit our mistakes, learn from them, and repair them wherever and whenever possible.
We are holding ourselves accountable to
- Invest in training about racism, such as the antiracist training during the English Department summer retreat conducted by San Francisco Unified School District professionals on #Black Lives Matter curriculum and developing antiracist educational structures.
- Advocate for an ethnic studies graduation requirement, hiring practices that foster diversity, and other anti-racist initiatives that are known to increase success for all students and support Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, and other students of color.
- Advocate to remedy inequities between part-time and full-time instructors as they are reflective of a racist and inequitable system and harmfully impact the teaching and learning environment.
- Read and engage with texts about the history and current conditions of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander and other communities of color and about methodologies for mitigating racism within and outside of the academy.
- Continue advocating for and providing our department with resources and professional learning that promote student-centered, anti-racist, equitable teaching practices.
- Provide venues for student voices in Fall 2020 and beyond, starting with an anonymous student survey on racism and intersectional oppression at Gavilan and surrounding communities to help us understand how to best serve and support learning and success.
- Support each other compassionately as colleagues who are learning and growing together, knowing we will make mistakes, and approach each other with humility, not as experts. We understand we need each other to increase our capacity for discussion and growth.
We will communicate the results of our commitment by
- Sharing our survey results with students and colleagues.
- Continuing to implement these changes, rise to new challenges, and foster dialogue during our department meetings and department retreats.
- Sharing this document, what we are learning about antiracist teaching and learning, and the impact of this approach at Academic Senate, Department Chairs, GCFA, ASGC, and the Board of Trustees.
Some of the language in the first paragraph on this statement has been adapted from the De Anza College Academic Senate’s “Statement of Solidarity With Black Lives Matter and De Anza College Students and Faculty Who Are Struggling and Protesting During These Difficult Times in 2020.”