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>> Upholding Racial Justice + Equity: Messages to the CCA Community

Posted January 7, 2021, 4:55 PM by George Luis Sedano Updated April 21, 2021, 5:14 PM


Marking this moment of accountability
[The message below was emailed on Wednesday, 21 April 2021.]

Dear CCA Community,

Like many of you, I watched the news closely yesterday afternoon, waiting to learn the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. When the verdict came—guilty on all counts—it was an emotional moment, a historic moment, a milestone within a long process of awareness, action, and accountability that has engaged much of our country in a new way since the day George Floyd was murdered 11 months ago. It was also, importantly, a moment we must mark—as a positive step in a process, not an endpoint—and then keep going, keep working, keep demanding true and lasting change in this country.

I am heartened by this verdict, but I am also aware of its rarity. According to the New York Times, there have been only seven murder convictions of officers for fatal police shootings since 2005—1 conviction for every 2,000 killings. Even as we welcomed the verdict yesterday, we learned that Ma'Khia Bryant, just 16 years old, had been shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, that very afternoon. There is much work to be done.

In the midst of a year of unfathomable loss, grief, and outrage, yesterday’s verdict offered a moment of relief and a sign of hope. Hope that change is possible, that those in power may be held accountable, that equity, justice, and reparations for past harms are achievable goals.

We are fortunate at CCA to have so many within our community who are committed to these goals, who will not let the systemic racism that has stained our country throughout its history continue to stand. I am honored and humbled by the opportunity I’ve had to work this past year with a group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni—led fiercely and fearlessly by our students—to identify racism and inequity within our own college and develop a framework to address it on a systemic level. I am inspired by our students, who have not—and should not—let up on their demands, even over the course of an emotionally and physically draining year. They provide incredible energy to this movement, and it is the job of all of us to keep that energy, to honor it, and to use it to move forward.

One concrete action from these discussions is the creation of a senior leadership position, reporting directly to me, to advance and operationalize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at CCA. We are in the final stages of identifying a search firm to partner with us in the hiring process, a process that will engage our entire campus community. I look forward to sharing more details soon.

In this moment and looking to the future, I am grateful for this community of creative citizens, and look forward to continuing our work together.

Take care,
Steve


Resources
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging resources
Counseling Services [CCA mental health crisis hotline: +1 510-594-5099]
Office of the Dean of Students – Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement


Faculty of Color Alliance Statement on Anti-Asian Racism and Violence
[The message below was emailed on Tuesday, 23 March 2021.]

The Faculty of Color Alliance is saddened and angered by the racist murders that took place last week, and the misinformed press coverage that followed. We stand against this horrific escalation of violence and consequential killing of Asian people in the United States and in steadfast solidarity with all those most at-risk due to the legacies of U.S. Anti-Asian policies – such as but certainly not limited to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Executive Order 9066 of 1942, ongoing misogyny, and economic vulnerability.

The rhetoric of the previous U.S. presidential administration refueled these misguided, latent falsities, now spun and reinvigorated into our current environment of atrocity. The 21 year old shooter in Atlanta did not emerge in isolation but rather as a culmination of this spectrum of Anti-Asian hate. All of us as artists, designers, faculty, students and staff come together in the daylight of this hour to say no to this hatred, and will seek every opportunity to use our talent, skill, and voices to allow our society in this country to finally understand and put a stop to such actions. We mourn and will commemorate with our actions, the memory of those we lost last week: Soon Chung Park, (age 74), Hyun Jung Grant (age 51), Suncha Kim (age 69), Yong Yue (age 63), Delaina Ashley Yaun (age 33), Paul Andre Michels (age 54), Xiaojie Tan (age 49), Daoyou Feng (age 44).

We are grateful to our colleague, Maxwell Leung, for putting together a resource page about anti-Asian racism and violence for educators that will help us further understand the tragedy and the current crisis. This vital information, as well as engaging in difficult conversations, and checking in on our Asian American and Asian neighbors who are currently being targeted, are some small, but powerful starting points in our efforts to confront this current crime against our humanity. 

In solidarity, 
Members of Faculty of Color Alliance | FOCA

Anti-Asian Racism and Violence Resource Page


A statement of care following the tragedy in Atlanta
[The message below was emailed on Thursday, 18 March 2021.]

Dear CCA Community,

On Tuesday, we learned of another terrible act of violence in our country—the murder of eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian women. I am deeply saddened for those who are coping with the unbearable loss of their loved ones, and the grief and fear felt in communities across the country. I am also angered by this horrific act. I cannot ignore the intersection of racial, sexual, and gender violence of which the tragedy in Atlanta is but the latest example. It is especially devastating in light of a wave of escalating incidents of anti-Asian racism and violence against Asian communities across the nation, including here in the Bay Area.

As I wrote just three weeks ago, CCA condemns all acts of violence and discrimination, and denounces the racism and xenophobia that feed them. I want all members of our community—especially, today, our Asian and Asian American students, faculty, and staff—to know that we stand with you in support and in solidarity. You deserve to feel and be safe, respected, and free from violence and hate. When that is taken from you, it harms us all. 

As a caring community, we extend compassion to those among us who are experiencing trauma or grief. And as creative citizens, we must each act with urgency to address and dismantle the complex systems of oppression that diminish us all. 

Sincerely,
Steve 

CCA RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS
Counseling Services [CCA mental health crisis hotline: +1 510-594-5099]
Office of International Student Affairs and Programs (ISAP)
Office of the Dean of Students – Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement
CCA Care Form – Report a concern regarding a CCA student or incidents of harassment, or receive referral to services. (Do not use the form for emergency situations requiring immediate attention.)

COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Safety Tips for Those Experiencing or Witnessing Hate
Stop AAPI Hate
Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit


Standing in solidarity together against anti-Asian violence and racism
[The message below was emailed on Thursday, 2 February 2021.]

Dear CCA Community,

There has been a disturbing increase in violence and discrimination against Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities since the onset of the pandemic nearly a year ago. Layered on top of the overlapping health, financial, social, and political stressors of the past year, this rise has been intensified by anti-China rhetoric from white-supremacist groups, irresponsible media, and national leaders who repeatedly—and wrongly—blamed a single country and its people for the spread of a virus that cares nothing about borders or nationalities.

In recent weeks, heightened media attention to violence against Asians, including several high-profile incidents here in the Bay Area, has brought greater visibility to the problem of anti-Asian racism. The level of attention and awareness may seem new, but anti-Asian racism is most certainly not; it is deeply embedded in this country’s history.

CCA condemns these acts of violence and discrimination, and denounces the racism and rhetoric that feed them. As creative citizens and caring members of the CCA community, we must stand in solidarity with those among us who are experiencing trauma, grief, or fear, and understand that violence against Asian communities is an assault against us all.

In doing so, we must also challenge images and narratives that promote stereotypes or diminish the complexity of racism in this country. Anti-Asian violence and discrimination are closely intertwined with that experienced by other BIPOC communities. So too, however, is a long history of coalition building, activism, and unity among marginalized communities.

Many members of our CCA community have been working—some throughout their lives and careers—to address the root causes of this violence and discrimination, and to advocate for creative, community-driven solutions that will foster unity and increase safety for all. I would like to thank CCA professors Thi Bui and Maxwell Leung, and dean Tina Takemoto, who have shared their invaluable perspectives and wisdom with me, as well as many of the resources I am pleased to share with you below. 

Sincerely,
Steve
CCA RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS
Counseling Services [CCA mental health crisis hotline: +1 510-594-5099]
Office of International Student Affairs and Programs (ISAP)
Office of the Dean of Students – Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement
CCA Care Form – Report a concern regarding a CCA student or incidents of harassment, or receive referral to services. (Do not use the form for emergency situations requiring immediate attention.)

COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Take action
Safety Tips for Those Experiencing or Witnessing Hate
Oakland Chinatown Coalition volunteer sign-up – Join a volunteer foot patrol or find other volunteer opportunities.
Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit

Learn more
"What This Wave of Anti-Asian Violence Reveals About America” by Anne Anlin Cheng (New York Times, February 21, 2021)
Silence is consent to anti-Asian racism in California and around the world” op-ed by Asia Society President Kevin Rudd (San Francisco Chronicle, February 17, 2021)
Rising crime, calls for solidarity: a deeper look at what’s happening in Chinatown” by Sarah Belle Lin and Darwin BondGraham (Oaklandside, February 12, 2021)

Organizations and advocacy groups
APEN (Asian Pacific Environmental Network)
AAPI Women Lead
Chinese Progressive Association
Stop AAPI Hate
Chinese for Affirmative Action


Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
[The message below was emailed on Friday, 15 January 2021.]

Dear CCA Community,

On Monday we honor the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a national holiday in recognition of his life and work. Many choose to celebrate his legacy as a day of service and reflection, affirming the principles and values he lived and taught—racial equity, justice, compassion, and nonviolence.  

These values seem in short supply in our country right now. Last week, we witnessed unconscionable acts of violence as a pro-Trump mob stormed and desecrated our nation’s Capitol, leaving five people dead and our democracy deeply shaken. We’ve been warned of plans for further violence this Sunday and on Inauguration Day as extremist groups—fueled by conspiracy theories and white supremacy, and egged on by self-serving leaders who stoke hate and fear—threaten our seats of government, democratically elected representatives, and communities. 

As we brace for the coming days, I urge you to take care for your safety, and to be kind and generous with yourself and others as we each work to process what is happening and navigate these difficult days. I encourage you to look ahead toward the promising signals that we may soon begin to rebuild our democracy, to repair the foundation that has been so badly damaged. 

On January 20, Joe Biden and (Oakland’s own) Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as the United States’ new president and vice president. They will replace an administration whose policies have so often contradicted the values we embrace as a college that teaches critical thinking and making; promotes sustainability and social justice; and thrives on the diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences of our members, who come to CCA from across the country and around the world. Wednesday’s inauguration offers not only a symbolic shift for our nation, but a tangible one, bringing real changes in the policies that will guide our response to the pandemic, immigration, funding for higher education, racial equity, and many other areas that directly affect our community.

In the coming days, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will join the U.S. Senate as the newest senators from Georgia; likely in time to participate in President Trump’s second impeachment. Warnock, who will be Georgia’s first Black senator, is a long-time advocate for accessible health care, environmental sustainability, and voting rights. He was also the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the spiritual home of Dr. King. 

The election of these two senators is the direct result of people who have continued the work of Dr. King and others, from fighting the blatant disenfranchisement of Black voters through Jim Crow laws in King’s day, to overcoming attempts to suppress the voices of marginalized voters in 2020. 

Building on the principles of creative citizenship outlined in CCA’s Creative Accord, the Office of Student Life has compiled a list of opportunities to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My own plans include the National Day of Racial Healing, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and “Where Do We Go From Here,” a documentary film festival and webinar from the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford. I encourage you to join me and others on Monday in service and advocacy, as we reflect on the words and actions of the man we honor on that day. I hope you will find both solace and inspiration.   

Sincerely,
Steve


Message from President Beal
[The message below was emailed on Thursday, 7 January 2021.]

Dear CCA Community,

The insurrection that took place in our nation’s capitol yesterday was shocking. It was a stunning display of white privilege, abuse of power, and willful disregard for truth and fairness, things that have no place in our society and stand in stark opposition to the values of our CCA community. It was also a jarring contrast to the day before, when we saw a glimpse of the promise our fragile democracy still holds.

On Tuesday I, like many of you, watched late into the night as returns came in from the Senate races in Georgia—races in which voters—especially young, African American, and marginalized voters—defied intense suppression efforts and turned out to make their voices heard. We owe a debt of gratitude to Stacey Abrams, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and the multitudes of others—including members of our own CCA community—who worked tirelessly to register voters, get people to the polls, and reclaim our democracy. 

What that mob did yesterday—what they were incited and enabled to do—is unconscionable. But the chambers they defiled will soon be occupied by the two newly elected senators from Georgia, who will join an incoming administration that is much more closely aligned with the values of equity, social justice, environmental sustainability, education, fairness, and diversity that underpin our work as members of CCA’s creative community.

The creativity and determination of young people, like our students, has inspired us throughout this challenging year. In the midst of darkness and cynicism, we are also witnessing the kind of creative activism that will make meaningful change in our world. 

Sincerely,
Steve


Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
[The information below was included in a "Year-end update from the president and senior leadership team" message emailed on Tuesday, 22 December 2020.]

Throughout the summer and fall, work has been taking place throughout the college to increase accountability and promote anti-racism and equity at CCA. Over the summer, the President's Diversity Steering Group (PDSG) solicited and organized recommendations from the CCA community. Some of these recommendations were implemented immediately and others are being developed, as this work is ongoing.

President Beal, Provost Carland, Gesita Tafesse (Assistant Dean of Students for Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement), and Adriana Lopez Lobovits (Special Assistant and Board Liaison, Office of the President) have met regularly through the fall with representatives from three student groups—Black Brilliance, Students of Color Coalition, and the Working Class BIPOC Grant Campaign—to address a list of ten demands from the students to support the needs of CCA’s BIPOC community and create systemic change at the college. We look forward to reporting the progress we’ve made in addressing these demands early in the new year. 

Another group has been meeting with people across the college to develop a framework for building diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging fully into the institutional structure, culture, and curriculum of CCA. Some of this work has been done with guidance from Dr. Sonia Mañjon, whom CCA engaged as a consultant to advise on the development of the diversity, equity, and inclusion framework; facilitate an equity-focused retreat session with the Senior Cabinet; and aid the Board of Trustees in their efforts to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Also this year, the college developed guidelines and resources, collectively authored by the Decolonial School, intended to help the CCA community integrate the practice of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement into the school’s culture. 


Progress update: Upholding racial justice and equity
[The message below was emailed on Tuesday, 26 August 2020.]

Dear CCA Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As our community comes together (albeit virtually) to begin this unusual new semester, we would like to share an update on CCA’s progress toward several commitments we announced earlier this summer to advance anti-racism and address structural inequities within our college. This week, we launched a new webpage: Action + Accountability: CCA’s commitment to anti-racism, equity, and social justice. On this page, we will provide ongoing, public updates on CCA’s commitments, actions, and progress toward making our college a place that is welcoming, equitable, inclusive, and safe for everyone.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder on May 25, our community, our nation, and the world demanded a reckoning with the systemic racism that devalues and disempowers so many members of our society. We made a commitment to you—our CCA community—to act decisively and with urgency to identify and implement steps that are definitive, measurable, and transparent to confront and change the systems that perpetuate racial injustice and inequity within our institution.  

Members of the CCA community submitted more than 125 recommendations, which the President’s Diversity Steering Committee (PDSG) compiled, categorized, and presented to us for review (you can see a compilation of those suggestions here, and can continue to submit recommendations). On June 30, we announced an initial list of commitments and immediate actions CCA was taking to address some of those recommendations. The new web page currently provides updates on those initial commitments, and will continue to evolve and grow as we announce and track additional initiatives and updates. 

We recognize this is a small step, and acknowledge that these actions must be the first of many. As our nation is this week confronted with yet another police shooting of a Black American, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, our resolve and commitment to uphold racial justice and equity at CCA, and in our larger society, are unwavering. We thank you for holding us accountable, and for working together to build a safe, inclusive, and actively anti-racist CCA.

Sincerely,
Stephen Beal, President
Tammy Rae Carland, Provost


Actions in Progress for Racial Justice and Equity
[The message below was emailed on Tuesday, 9 June 2020.]

Dear CCA Community,

What took place on May 25 in Minneapolis exposed, again, the terrible systems that support violence against Black lives. The murder of George Floyd sparked a movement that is reframing the meaning of responsible citizenship, even amid the continuing crisis of COVID–19. Like so many in our country, the CCA community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees—is responding and demanding change. And you are asking what meaningful steps the college can take to stand against racial injustice and to advance social equity.

I value the transformative power of education and take pride in the generations of CCA alumni who are making our country a more just, sustainable, and equitable society. Yet this is not enough. We have a long way to go, and leaders have a special responsibility to reflect upon and critique the structure of their institutions. We must continuously and consistently confront power relations within our own walls that devalue, disempower, or disrespect members of our community. Institutions are part of a larger American society plagued since its inception by structural inequities—especially for African Americans. Pledging energy, commitment, and resources, CCA will take on the task of defining and implementing reparative steps that are definitive, measurable, and transparent.

Following are some of the steps we are initiating now and others we are building upon. I ask that you recognize them for what they are—small steps in an ongoing journey that we are committed to continuing for as long as CCA stands as an institution.

Juneteenth day of service
Beginning this year, CCA will institute an annual day of service on Juneteenth (June 19, 2020), a day that celebrates African American freedom and achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. We will plan an additional service day in the fall that will focus on decolonial initiatives. 

Diversity and inclusion performance goals
All departments will be required to include a diversity and inclusion goal as part of this year’s annual staff performance review process, with the purpose of promoting accountability in our efforts to foster cultural competence, diversity, and inclusivity within our community of students, staff, and faculty. 

Diversifying the CCA Board of Trustees
The CCA Board of Trustees has begun a renewed effort to improve diversity and inclusion within its governing body. Recognizing the need for deep expertise to help develop and take action on an effective diversity and inclusion plan, the board researched and selected an outside expert to support this work, which will be comprehensive and ongoing.

Racial justice and equity resource list
Last week, I invited members of our community to share anti-racism resources you have found helpful and would like to offer to others. Your suggestions are being gathered on a Community-Sourced Racial Justice + Equity Resources page on Portal, a collection of peer-to-peer recommendations that will grow over time. If you’d like to offer an additional resource, please do so here

Emotional support group meetings 
HR is in the process of scheduling emotional support groups for BIPOC colleagues, as well as non-targeted groups. These sessions for faculty and staff will be guided by a licensed counselor to help participants address the trauma of racial tension and violence.

Voter friendly campus
Since fall 2019, various departments and programs have been crafting an action plan to become a Voter Friendly Campus. The multi-pronged approach will focus community efforts related to voter registration, education, and turnout. In November 2020, CCA will once again serve as a polling location.

Coordinated institutional reflection, action, and assessment
Advancing a racially just and equitable culture at CCA will require continuous, comprehensive work. Several groups and many individuals on our campus have long been committed to this work, including the President’s Diversity Steering Group, the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Decolonial School, and we are all beneficiaries of their energy and expertise. The work ahead, though, involves all of us—not just our diversity-focused groups and task forces. 

As I said in my message last week, we as an institution have the power and the privilege that positions us to act in meaningful ways to promote social justice and community engagement. In the days since, I’ve returned repeatedly to considering the power we have individually as well—as artists, designers, writers, architects, scholars, teachers, activists, and others who support this creative work—to shape the future of our society and our world. 

I will close this message with a personal commitment to redouble my own efforts to further educate myself about BIPOC racism and anti-blackness; to facilitate systemic institutional change by creating space and prioritizing time and resources for this work; and to participate actively in these efforts. I am grateful for the thoughtful feedback and critique I have received from this community, and I look forward to working with each of you to address the structural inequities that exist on our campus and in our community.

Sincerely,
Steve


Upholding Racial Justice and Equity
[The message below was emailed on Tuesday, 2 June 2020.]

Dear Students,

The images of recent days have left an imprint that will never leave my mind. Through the gut-wrenching video of George Floyd’s unconscionable murder to the scenes of anguish, anger, and heartbreaking sadness documented by journalists and citizens alike, we’re called to bear witness to the grim reality of this country’s failure, yet again, to protect and respect Black lives. 

The pandemic had already laid bare the inequities—social, racial, economic, political—of a societal structure that is, at its core, terribly unjust, built on centuries of systemic oppression. The pandemic that has already killed more than 100,000 people in this country has been especially deadly for Black Americans, who are disproportionately affected by job losses and lack of access to healthcare, and often inordinately at risk in front-line jobs.

The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and, tragically, many others have layered on top of this yet another example of the deep structural racism that endures. The images that enable each of us to bear witness, that provide a level of proximity to such acts of brutality and violence, also carry a demand of accountability. As an institution of higher education, CCA has a particular ability—and responsibility—to be a component of change. And we must do better. 

Many of you have been doing this important work for a long time, through your art and your activism. Many members of our community live with the impact of racism daily. Others serve as allies in this work. As we mourn George Floyd and countless other Black lives lost, my hope is that we can draw upon our community’s shared expertise, creativity, and energy to support one another in the continuation of this work—not just this week or this year, but every day going forward.

As an institution with the power and privilege to do so, CCA must now double down on our commitment to improving access and opportunities for underrepresented groups, and to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into our role as a proponent of social justice and community engagement. These are among CCA’s stated values, and we stand in action and solidarity with those who are putting themselves on the line to uphold these values and demand equity, inclusion, justice, and agency. 

Today, as one step, I would like to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out; I am here and I am listening. Are there resources have you found helpful that you would be willing to share with other members of the CCA community? This week, CCA will launch a new Portal page, Racial Justice and Equity Resources, where we will compile resources shared by and for our community—things to read, groups to join, legal resources, creative actions. We are also planning additional forums for listening and conversation, and will share information soon. If you would like to share any comments, concerns, resources, or suggestions, please do so at this link, or reply directly to this message.

Please be well and safe,
Steve