By Vanessa Reis
“I want to see our conversations around equity and inclusion expand to include our faculty and staff, not just students,” said committee member Jazmin Pichardo at the end-of-semester “Embrace Race” reception held Tuesday in Stamp Student Union.
Embrace Race is a “learning community for faculty and staff on campus around engaging conversations about race, racial justice, privilege and power,” said Pichardo, who also serves as the assistant director of diversity training and education in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
According to Pichardo, Embrace Race engages in biweekly reflections and workshops with faculty on campus about issues of identity and racial justice. There was a total of six training sessions throughout the spring semester. Due to “really overwhelming feedback about folks wanting to see this continue,” Pichardo said the committee is continuing with a summer series.
The reception also displayed books discussing issues around race, including Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper and White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race by Robin Diangelo. One aspect of the summer series, Pichardo said, is “gathering around a particular book or text that we will discuss or reflect on together.”
Sika Wheeler, coordinator for the university’s LGBT Equity Center, said that “there were a lot of people who were sort of expressing that they really wanted to do something about race on campus but didn’t know where to start or who to talk to” around the time of the election of President Trump and the on-campus death of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III.
According to Wheeler, Embrace Race discussed questions of socialization and its connection to our professional practices. Members are also encouraged to consider the type of environment we contribute to the creation of on campus. The committee, she added, invited people from all across campus, from undergraduate studies to ResLife.
“A lot of times, the focus on campus is on students and their growth and development as it relates to race and gender and other social issues. But I don’t know that faculty and staff are always well-equipped to have those conversations,” said Kalia Patricio, assistant director of Human Resources at Stamp Student Union.
“I think a lot of people have really yearned for this space,” said Patricio, as the feedback was “really positive.”