Becoming an Antiracist College Project
As part of SUNY Geneseo's ongoing effort to become an antiracist campus in accordance with our Community Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the College Senate Resolution in Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement passed on June 11, 2020, we dedicate the 2020–2021 academic year to a college wide exploration of topics related to racial (in)equity, (in)justice, and movements for social change.
We acknowledge that “becoming an antiracist college” is aspirational and therefore perpetually imperfect. As Dr. Ibram X. Kendi states in his book “How to Be an Antiracist,” people and organizations oscillate between promoting racist ideology and antiracist ideology, with promoting antiracism requiring ongoing effort and intentionality. The focused nature of this project requires us to reimagine the inner-workings of the college, propelling individual and institutional growth towards our aspiration of “becoming an antiracist college.” Many departments have already begun articulating their refreshed commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism. Even after the conclusion of this year, we commit to sustaining the movement activated this year.
Incentives to Develop Antiracist Courses
- Financial Incentive for January Intersession 2021
Intersession 2021 will run for four weeks (January 4-29) rather than the usual three. Faculty can earn an additional $500 compensation for a three- or four-credit course taught in Intersession 2021 that addresses anti-racism centrally or for a section of the course. Deadline for declaring interest in this incentive is December 1, 2020. For additional details head to the Center for Digital Learning or e-mail email@example.com.
- January 2021 Antiracist Courses
- Dr. Melanie Medeiros (ANTH) - Race, Racism and the Black Experience in the Americas
- Dr. Meredith Harrigan (COMN) - Intercultural Communication
- Dr. Justin Behrend (HIST) - Jackie Robinson, Baseball, and American Racism
- Jessica Gilbert '13 (GEOG) - Environmental Issues
- Dr. James Moor (PLSC) - Politics of the Judicial Process
- Dr. Michael Oberg (HIST) - Native American History
- Kiara Massar (ENGL) - Topics in Literature: Race and Representation in Text and Media
- Readings, videos, and resources for antiracist education
Curated list of resources on antiracism including antiracist pedagogy, becoming an antiracist educator, as well as broader work on systemic racism.
Programmatic Schedule of Events
- Cultivating Community - "Becoming an Antiracist College: How do we translate our definition of antiracism into a vision and plan?"
Monday, November 2, 2020 is the second of our Cultivating Community dialogues for the 2020 Fall semester and titled, "Becoming an Antiracist College: How do we translate our definition of antiracism into a vision and plan?" These events bring various members of our community together in meaningful dialogue.
Monday, November 2, from 2:30-3:45pm.
Click here to RSVP for the online dialogue via Zoom (by Friday, October 30)
Click here to RSVP for the in-person dialogue (by Friday, October 30)
Future dialogue dates:
- Wednesday, December 2, 2020
- Wednesday, February 24, 2021
- Wednesday, March 31, 2021
- Monday, May 3, 2021
- Black History, Black Futures (October 2020)
Black History Month takes place in October in the United Kingdom and February in North America. As part of the Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA), Dr. Jermaine Ravalier at Bath Spa University (U.K.) decided to link Black History Month events at Bath Spa with those at SUNY Geneseo, Columbia College, and Claremont Graduate University. SUNY Geneseo students will have access to over 15 talks, panels, and workshops and will engage in shared discussion with their fellow students in the U.K. about anti-racist work within the university. The month-long schedule, Zoom links, and additional details are available here.
- Cultural Harmony Week (3rd Week in October)
The annual observance of Cultural Harmony Week (3rd week in October) has become a tradition at Geneseo that truly puts into practice the sentiments expressed in its mission and values statements. At its inception, the week was designed to explore issues of race, ethnicity and culture. This year, Cultural Harmony Week will focus on the topic of Cultural Dis/Harmony, exploring how as we celebrate difference and unity we must also understand division, trauma, and injustices. Events will allow opportunities for education, skills development, and creativity around topics including Black Trans Lives, African American English, and skills development in social justice. The week will culimate with a virtual Intercultural Dinner.
- October 30 Maria Lima - Project 1619
When: Friday, October 30, 2020, 1:00-2:15pm
Title: Project 1619
Description: Because what we understand about our history is the foundation for how we explain the present and the justification, the rationale, for how we plan for the future, “Black Humanities” takes on The New York Times challenge to reframe American history. As I describe what the Project entails--to look at slavery as foundational to American history, culture, and identity--perhaps I can inspire teachers to develop curricula with “Black Lives Matter” as a starting point. On the first day of Black History Month, Keir Starmer (U.K. Labour Party leader) visited the Museum of London to celebrate the achievements of Black Britons and to join calls for the curriculum to become more diverse. According to The Guardian, Starmer wants Black British history to be taught all year round, “as part of a truly diverse school curriculum that includes and inspires all young people and aids a full understanding of the struggle for equality” (1/10/2020). I would tell him “not only the history, Sir, but the literature, the art, the culture… and so much more.” View Professor Lima's talk on YouTube here.
Maria Helena Lima is a Professor of English and Black Studies at SUNY Geneseo. Recent publications include “The Politics of Teaching Black and British” in Black British Writing (Palgrave), “A Written Song: Andrea Levy’s Neo-Slave Narrative” in Entertext and “The Choice of Opera for a Revisionist History: Joan Anim-Addo’s Imoinda as a Neo-Slave Narrative,” in Transcultural Roots Uprising. Lima co-edited (with Joan Anim-Addo, Goldsmiths) a two-volume special issue of Callaloo on contemporary neo-slave narratives. Lima has been teaching “Black Humanities: the 1619 Project” since Fall 2019.
- March 2 Diversity Summit
The SUNY Geneseo Diversity Summit is a full day of diversity-focused sessions hosted by members of the campus community with a keynote address by a notable outside speaker. Details for the March 2, 2021 Diversity Summit TBD.
Past Programs and Recordings
- October 26, What is Antiracist Pedagogy? (recording and materials)
Title: What is Antiracist Pedagogy?
Who: Crystal Simmons (School of Education) and Dave Parfitt (Teaching and Learning Center)
Description: This session led by Dr. Crystal Simmons, an Assistant Professor in the School of Education, will discuss the importance and need for Antiracist pedagogy. She will present strategies and resources that can be incorporated in our coursework and teaching. Questions that will be addressed during the presentation include:
- What is Antiracist Pedagogy?
- How can I implement this in my coursework?
- What does it mean to be an antiracist educator?
Background reading: Alda Blakeney (2011) Antiracist Pedagogy: Definition, Theory, and Professional Development
Antiracist Discussion Pedagogy
- October 21, A Community Conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
Who: Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is one of the country's leading antiracist voices. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, a #1 New York Times best-selling author, and the youngest-ever winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction. He is also a 2020–2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where he will continue work on his next historical monograph, Bones of Inequity: A Narrative History of Racist Policies in America.
Description: The Friends of the Central Library, in partnership with the Syracuse University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Hendricks Chapel, and the Lender Center for Social Justice, present A Community Conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, sponsored by The Central New York Community Foundation, The Gifford Foundation, and WCNY. Join us for a free discussion on Zoom about antiracism and critical social issues that affect us all. In the coming weeks, you will receive an email with instructions and a link to the Zoom webinar for the event.
Kendi's 2019 book How to be an Antiracist was described by the New York Times as “the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.” His latest book published October 6, 2020, Be Antiracist: A Guided Journal for Awareness, Reflection, and Action, is available now.
- October 15 Angela Saini - Science, Race and Power
When: Thursday, October 15, 2020, 1:00-2:30pm
Title: Science, Race and Power
Who: Angela Saini, an award-winning science journalist whose print and broadcast work has appeared on the BBC and in the Guardian, New Scientist, Wired, the Economist, and Science. A former Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, she won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Kavli Science Journalism gold award in 2015. Saini has a master’s in engineering from Oxford University, and she is the author of Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story and Geek Nation: How Indian Science Is Taking Over the World.
Description: Racial categories feel tangible, but as we know from genetics, they are no more rooted in biology than they were hundreds of years ago when they were arbitrarily invented by European scientists who were affected by the politics of their time. Yet scientific myths about human difference live on today in disturbing ways. As ethnic nationalism rises around the world, race science is experiencing a revival on the far-right, fuelled by the abuse of data and facts by politically-motivated groups. Even well-intentioned scientists, through their lazy use of old-fashioned categories, inappropriately imply that race has some innate basis. We forget to our cost that race was never about biology but always about power.
For information about the virtual Book Club discussion of Angela Saini's Superior: The Return of Race Science, click here.
- October 13 "White Fragility" Book Discussion, Session 2
Title: Virtual Reading Group Robin DiAngelo's "White Fragility" #2
Who: Laura Matthews (Director of Jewish Student Life), Sasha Eloi-Evans (Director of Multicultural Programs and Services), and Dave Parfitt (Teaching and Learning Center)
Description: After our first discussion of Robin DiAngelo's "White Fragility," there was a great desire by those in attendance to continue the conversation. Therefore, we have scheduled a second discussion on Tuesday, October 13 from 10:30-11:30am via Zoom. Link to join can be found below. No matter how far you got in DiAngelo's book, or whether you were able to join our first session, all are welcome to join the discussion. We plan on gathering the entire group in a Zoom room for an opening discussion, and then dividing into breakout rooms for smaller group discussions. Based on initial feedback from when the books were distributed, we want to ensure everyone has the space they need for a fruitful discussion. Therefore, we will have breakout rooms solely for our BIPOC and White colleagues as well as breakout rooms for those comfortable in engaging in the discussions together.
- October 1 The Great Debate: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Struggle for the American Soul (Recording)
Title: The Great Debate: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Struggle for the American Soul
Who: Nicholas Buccola, Elizabeth & Morris Glicksman Chair in Political Science at Linfield College. Part of the Forum on Constitutionalism and Democracy at SUNY Geneseo established in 2019 by Professors Carly Herold and Aaron Herold.
Description: The lecture is based on Buccola's book The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, about the 1965 Cambridge debate between these two writers. The topic was “the American dream is at the expense of the American Negro,” and no one who has seen the debate can soon forget it.
- September 21 Cultivating Community: "What might antiracism mean for members of our community?"
Monday, September 21, 2020 is the first of our Cultivating Community dialogues for the 2020 Fall semester will be anchored by the theme, "From Values to Action: Becoming an Antiracist College". These events bring various members of our community together in meaningful dialogue.
To participate asynchronously or to continue the conversation, join us on Canvas.
- September 16 "White Fragility" Book Discussion, Session 1
Title: Virtual Reading Group of Robin DiAngelo's "White Fragility"
Who: Laura Matthews (Director of Jewish Student Life), Sasha Eloi-Evans (Director of Multicultural Programs and Services), Jennifer Guzman (Assistant Professor Anthropology), and Dave Parfitt (Teaching and Learning Center)
Description: Join a facilitated discussion of Robin DiAngelo's "White Fragility." We plan on gathering the entire group in a Zoom room for an opening discussion, and then dividing into breakout rooms for smaller group discussions. Based on initial feedback from when the books were distributed, we want to ensure everyone has the space they need for a fruitful discussion. Therefore, we will have breakout rooms solely for our BIPOC and White colleagues as well as breakout rooms for those comfortable in engaging in the discussions together.