Racism Action Plan

As an Associate of Arts (Psychology major) student at Columbus State Community College (Columbus, Ohio, USA) from Fall 2013 to Fall 2015, I was deeply concerned about the safety of students of black students including our psychological health. My concern began earnestly during 2014 as video after video showed (mostly white) American police officers killing unarmed black people. I was shocked that my institution had nothing to say to people like me who felt that their lives were in danger of a racial attack in 2014.
I first appealed to the President of the Columbus State, Dr. David Harrison, on December 10, 2014. Not long after Ferguson started burning, following the non-indictment of officer Darren Wilson—Mike Brown’s racist murderer. It would be another five months and another appeal to the president before I was in a room with Dr. Harrison. I knew he would have one question: What do you want? My response was a Racism Action Plan for Columbus State.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

1. COMMUNITY
Begin discussions within the community about race. Regular, sustainable meetings that tackle race issues.
2. ACADEMIC
Required course work: Diversity-focused.
Sustained semester-long coursework that puts the voices of the marginalized and the oppressed at the center. Not white women or disabled people or white LGBTQ+. Race-focused.
Instructors
- Continuing education for staff/faculty about race issues and white privilege.
- Active recruitment of black staff and faculty.
- Disciplinary action against racist employees.
3. CAMPUS
Rave text alert system: Cease racial descriptions.
Begin Hate crime alerts
Recruit more black police officers.
Provide better diversity support• “No to Racism” button on website for reporting purposes.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

Only one objective was achieved: the creation of community forums. The president rehired the former director of Global Diversity and Inclusion, Ms. Kim Brazwell, as his special assistant on all things diversity. She called these forums Courageous Conversations. This monthly series of events would focus on various sectors that are affected by racism e.g. Health, Education etc. I attended the Criminal Justice one and was alarmed when the forum began with a female police officer from the Columbus Police Department and an African American male. These two individuals spoke highly of each other in what appeared to be propaganda—a way of minimizing the very serious tensions between the black community and the police. I was very annoyed by this and various other aspects of the community forum which was disorganized and failed to directly attack criminal justice.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

The recognition of the effects of racial or race-based trauma especially when coupled with racial-battle fatigue.
The recognition of such trauma on black student success and graduation rates.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

More and more black students at Columbus State found their voice. They are no longer afraid to speak up and against racism. They are unafraid to rock the boat, they recognize that their very lives depend on it.

CHALLENGES FACED

Fighting my own prejudices and self-hatred as taught by white-supremacist ideology I.e. the media, the education system, the criminal justice system
Recognizing that not every white person is clueless and actively racist. Some are actually allies.
Seeing through the propaganda and time wasting strategies of the any executive that is adverse to change.

LESSONS LEARNT

White supremacy and racism knows no color. While black people can not be racist, only bigoted and prejudiced, , they can still be agents of white supremacy and racism.

Racism lurks everywhere. It is death by a 1000 papercuts ie microaggressions. This is not ok. It must be fought even if it is just for the sake of peace of mind and psychological wellness which affects every part of our well-being.

COUNTRY

South Africa

CITY

Pretoria