Fighting Systemic Racism & Inequality
President Kratochvil's message to the LMC community
In his 2017 farewell address, President Obama issued a call to action to the country. He noted that the United States is exceptional, not because it has been “flawless from the start,” but because we “have shown the capacity to change and make life better for those who follow.” He acknowledged that change does not come easily or happen swiftly. “Yes, our progress has been uneven,” he continued. “For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all and not just some.”
We are still striving for, but struggling to achieve, progress on a number of fronts in this country – particularly when it comes to equality and justice for Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and for marginalized, minoritized, and historically-underrepresented groups. At Los Medanos College, we are committed to strengthening a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, and racial justice. However, we recognize that our own efforts to provide education, opportunity, respect, safety, and success for all have not been flawless. Although many members of our College community have engaged in important equity-focused work, we have much more to do as an institution – namely around anti-racism and social justice. We have a tremendous capacity for change, a collective vision to make a positive difference in the lives of our students, and a commitment to “embrace all and not just some,” all of which will serve us well in this endeavor. LMC strives to provide an equitable learning and working environment for all, and to realize that goal we must stand against racism. We must work to root out and strike down systemic racism and white supremacy. We must demonstrate our commitment to learn, listen, and act in order to achieve that goal – not just on paper, but in practice.
One of our recent institutional actions demonstrating that commitment was joining the USC Race and Equity Center’sCalifornia Community College Equity Leadership Alliance. This new consortium has been designed as a “sustainable, multi-dimensional effort that addresses long-standing racial equity issues and campus racial climate problems.” In June, 20 members of our College community – including classified professional and faculty leaders identified by their respective Senates, along with our President’s Cabinet team – participated in an initial session entitled “Leading Productive Conversations about Racism.” Even in the face of fiscal challenges and uncertainty resulting from the economic impact of the global pandemic, we are committing financial resources to this work as an institutional priority. As a member institution, LMC will be able to utilize the resources and tools offered by the Alliance, including:
- Participation in monthly “eConvening” professional learning experiences, with each focused on a particular aspect of racial equity. Among the tentative topics are: Fostering and Sustaining Inclusive Classrooms for Students of Color; Accountability and Incentives for Advancing Racial Equity; Confronting Explicit Acts of Racism and Racial Violence on Campus; Creating Equitable Pathways to Leadership Roles for Employees of Color; Disaggregating Data to Identify Racial Inequities; Eliminating Racial Disproportionality in Student Transfer Rates; Hiring and Retaining Faculty of Color; Meaningfully Integrating Race Across the Curriculum; Recruiting and Strategically Diversifying Staff at All Levels; and Using Survey Data to Improve Campus Racial Climate.
- Access to a virtual equity resource portal, an online repository of resources and tools (e.g. equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, conversation scripts, etc.).
- Administration of three campus climate surveys: the Center’s National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) for students; and two additional surveys – one for personnel at all levels, the other for all faculty – designed using the NACCC as a guide.
In addition, we have taken steps to incorporate anti-racism objectives and language into our 2020-25 Educational Master Plan, which is still in development, and to align it with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) “Call to Action” strategies. Efforts are also well underway to develop an online resources site to support and strengthen our efforts to fight racism and injustice – as individuals and as a College community. This new website is expected to launch shortly. And, plans are in the works for a “town hall” College Assembly on racial justice – jointly hosted by the Senates and President’s Office – to be held in the Fall. LMC was also selected to participate in Caring Campus, an initiative of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change that engages classified professionals in developing behavioral commitments to proactively support and interact with students. Caring Campus supports institutional equity efforts by fostering an environment where all students – including those who have been historically marginalized or underserved – feel cared for and connected.
LMC’s focus on students, sense of community, commitment to equity and inclusion, and collaborative spirit will support our efforts to stand together against racism. It may not be an easy process, and some changes will take longer than others, but this work is critical and necessary to fully achieve our mission. And, along the way, we must make the effort and take the time to really listen to one another, truly see one another, authentically engage with one another, and respect one another.