Tag Archives: bias

UPDATES – MAY 2021

Exhale: A Meditation

This has been an unusual year. In so many ways, this year has been a portal; a portal that opened a window into the greater Truths of our existence. It showed us who we are, who we can be at our best, and who we can be at our worst.

It also revealed the gap between our dreams, institutional promises, and our lived realities. It illuminated a schism; a kind of brutal disappointment in the very institutions and systems that we thought would serve us. We have been holding our collective breath for far too long. We must embrace the power and promise of a long, deep exhale.

As more and more people become safe from the virus, our collective sense of comfort in the world slowly and cautiously begins to return. We Exhale.

As communities work toward change together, we see the possibility of transformation in places that were previously perceived as intractable. We Exhale.

As we gather together with newfound intersectional solidarity, we feel the power of collectivity and what it means to be in community. We Exhale.

As the Spring reveals its rich fullness, we recognize that all around us change is constant and we are part of that change. We Exhale.

And those of us who have been fighting for justice…we are coming to understand that justice cannot exist outside of us until it exists with us. We Exhale.

And as we move to the close of the academic year, it is my hope that you will now allow yourself to exhale. Exhale away anything that doesn’t serve you. You can Breathe now.

Breathe for those who no longer have breath.
Breathe  for those who can’t catch their breath.
Breathe for those yet to have breath.
Breathe for the planet so that she may be healed.
Breathe so that we may remember to remember who are and that freedom begins at the Exhale.

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Congratulations, SJC Graduates!
We congratulate Ashley Tarbet-DeStefano in the Elma Lewis Center for completing her MS degree in Critical Ethnic and Community Studies from UMass Boston, and Jeeyoon Kim in the Elma Lewis Center for completing her MA degree in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics from Emerson.On The Move:
It is with sadness that we inform the Emerson Community that Jeeyoon Kim will be transitioning out her role as Assistant Director for Youth Programs, and leaving Emerson. Jeeyoon played a critical role in guiding the development of some of the College’s distinct youth programs, more specifically, Creative Community Network and the Youth LEAD Sharon program. Jeeyoon has had a significant impact on the young people with whom she worked and has been a valued member of the Social Justice Center team. We extend our thanks and appreciation for Jeeyoon, as she and her partner make moves in the world. Jeeyoon, thank you for who you are and all that you have to done to create a vibrant learning community of young people. We are all better because of the time we have spent with you. Best wishes to you for what comes next in your life.

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traces remain the wooden bookSeed to Harvest: The Wooden Book, a touring book project where the people and communities write the pages, launched its Boston-area tour from Emerson’s Elma Lewis Center in April. Seed to Harvest: The Wooden Book is the first in a series of books that will travel throughout the United States and 14 U.S. territories collecting stories in the form of memories that will serve as medicine for its readers. In collaboration with Arts Emerson artist-in-residence, Toshi Reagon’s Parable Path Boston, the Traces/Remain ensemble is inviting people in communities to join them on a Sower’s journey that uses memories as medicine. You may submit your original content in response to one of four narrative prompts. The prompts include reflections on personal connections with trees, to memories of what you are ready to pass onto others for the purpose of healing, to what are you planting and what will you sow. Original poems, essays, short stories, articles, drawings, paintings, music, etc. may be submitted. We encourage all Emersonians to consider submitting their work. Entries may be made via email at seedtoharvestentries@gmail.com and more information can be found at artsemerson.org under programs.
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Title IX in black lettering on blue backgroundAccess, Equity, & Title IX
During the 2020-2021 academic year, Access, Equity, & Title IX (AET) received and evaluated 110 reports, 80 of which involved prohibited conduct under the College’s Power-Based Interpersonal Violence Policy. Reports involved a wide range of behaviors, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence. AET authorized two requests for a formal resolution processes (investigation and adjudication) and implemented supportive measures in response to 21 reports, either at the request of students or based on an assessment by AET staff. These measures were singular or a combination of measures, including but not limited to No Contact Orders; Stay Away Directives; requests for academic, residential, or workplace modifications; policy reminders; and targeted inquiries for safety assessment.

BIAS

Identity-Based Harm (Bias)
This academic year, we received 39 reports of identity-based harm, a significant reduction in the number of reports received last year (62). The classroom continues to be where a majority of harm is occurring. Experiences of harm related to ethnicity/culture, race, and gender identity/expression continue to be the most reported, as well as an increase in the number of experience of harm related to disability. Over the summer months the Social Justice Center will be in conversation with Academic Affairs, Campus Life, and Human Resources regarding additional options for reporting experiences of bias, microaggressions, and identity-based harm that will allow for direct reporting to the areas noted above while also maintaining an option of anonymity for those who report. This revised system will allow Academic Affairs, Campus Life, and Human Resources to monitor, track, and respond to experiences within their areas of the College. The Social Justice Center will continue to provide support and advocacy for those impacted by identity-based harm.

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Summer Exploration

 

Decarcerating Disability by Liat Ben-MosheDecarcerating Disability by Liat Ben-Moshe. Liat Ben-Moshe provides case studies that show how prison abolition is not an unattainable goal but rather a reality, and how it plays out in different arenas of incarceration—antipsychiatry, the field of intellectual disabilities, and the fight against the prison-industrial complex. Her analysis of lived experience, history, and culture charts a way out of a failing system of incarceration.
https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/decarcerating-disabilityWe Do This 'Til We Free Us by Mariame KabaWe Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba. What if social transformation and liberation isn’t about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle.

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1664-we-do-this-til-we-free-us

Sorrowland by Rivers SolomonSorrowland by Rivers Solomon. A genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374266776

Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline GumbsUndrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals. Undrowned is a book-length meditation for the entire human species, based on the subversive and transformative lessons of marine mammals. Alexis Pauline Gumbs has spent hundreds of hours watching our aquatic cousins. She has found them to be queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions humans have imposed on the ocean. Employing a brilliant mix of poetic sensibility, naturalist observation, and Black feminist insights, she translates their submerged wisdom to reveal what they might teach us. The result is a powerful work of creative nonfiction that produces not a specific agenda but an unfolding space for wonder and questioning.
https://www.akpress.org/undrowned.html

Updates – April 27, 2020

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Words by Kitty O’Meara, Art by April Nemeth, from Little Korboose at https://littlekorboose.com

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Greetings Everyone,

What an extraordinary period of time in which we are all living. Despite the rapid change and enormous upheaval that has occurred, we are somehow making our way through day-by-day. Students continue to learn, some in the safety of their homes and others as they still seek stability. Faculty continue to teach and finish up the semester after heroically transitioning their courses to an online delivery modality in a week’s time. Staff continue to get vital work done from home, while juggling their roles as parents, teachers to their children, and remote service providers.

Y algunos miembros del equipo de trabajo, aquellos que son a menudo pasados por alto, los que logran llegar diariamente a su trabajo para que el resto de nosotros podamos hacer lo que tenemos que hacer. Son ustedes y las personas como ustedes quienes nos sostienen y apoyan en nuestras vidas. Para aquellos que traen la comida, y aquellos que la preparan, los que mantienen nuestros edificios funcionando y los que nos mantienen unidos, sepan que los veo y los aprecio. Siempre han sido y serán esenciales, no por las tareas que realizan sino por quiénes son y las formas en que se mueven en el mundo. Con todo mi respeto, les deseo lo mejor a ustedes y a sus familias, y rezo para que estén protegidos de daños o perjuicios siempre, pero especialmente durante estos momentos difíciles. Ustedes están en mi corazón.

As we move forward, I hope we come out of this haze with more than stories of discomfort, financial hardship, and grief. Perhaps, we will grow into better versions of ourselves. Perhaps, we will learn what it truly means to live in the context of
community. Perhaps, as Rev. angel Kyodo Williams says, we will “tip the balance toward greater justice.”

In solidarity with you,
Sylvia

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Special Message to the Class of 2020
Your final semester at Emerson certainly has not been what you anticipated or wanted. Instead of marching into an arena for your commencement on May 10, your graduation festivities will most likely take place among a small group of family and friends, some of whom will join you by video. Please know that your accomplishments are so much greater than could ever be fully expressed through any commencement ceremony. Your graduation is really about all of the incredible ways you have grown during your time at Emerson, the deep and enduring relationships you have made, the challenges you have overcome, and the ways in which you have called Emerson to do better and be better. Graduation is often talked about as a time when graduates prepare to launch independently into the world. Yet, we are living through a period of time in which acknowledgment of our collective interdependence is most important. In the weeks and months to come, you will be called to balance the excitement of this new beginning with the uncertainty and complexity of this time. You have what it takes. You have the creativity, the talent, and the fortitude to make it through. You will write, and perform, and produce, and serve, and speak into the world, leading the rest of us into a new and better way to live. To the Class of 2020, I wish you peace and joy as you celebrate all that you have become.
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Social Justice Center Expanding its Reach
The Social Justice Center is not only doing work in the context of physical distance and social solidarity, we are also expanding our reach. We continue to provide support and advocacy to individuals and communities, work to advance equity and social justice, foster youth empowerment and creativity, and support the efforts of grassroots organizations who are coordinating  mutual aid projects in the Boston area. In addition, in response to the troubling uptick of xenophobic and discriminatory acts against members of the Asian and Asian American communities, we recently launched a new online platform called SJC LIVE for engaging with others about relevant social justice issues of the time.
Poster of Social Justice Center event called "Reflection and Action: Solidarity in Anti-Racist Practices"SJC LIVE is a virtual space for expanding our individual and collective capacities to manifest transformative social change. These Facebook Live conversations seek to center the people and work of racial justice movements, and call us into solidarity through anti-racist action. The videos from our five-part SJC LIVE series on anti-racist practices have been viewed by more than 2400 people, with our recent discussion on Abolition as an Anti-Racist Practice drawing more 600 viewers, including Emersonians out in the world as well as interested people with no connection to Emerson, from as far west as California and as far south as Florida. SJC LIVE is taking a brief hiatus but will be resuming soon with our next series focusing on Power, Violence, and Institutional Betrayals. In the meantime, all SJC LIVE videos can be found on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SocialJusticeCtr/videos and accessible transcripts can be downloaded at https://bit.ly/sjclivetranscripts.
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Additional Ways We Continue to Work in Support of Community
Power-Based Interpersonal Violence, Title IX and Clery: What It All Means and Why It Matters
In an effort to provide members of the community with a deeper understanding of campus-based responses to power-based interpersonal violence, the Social Justice Center is developing an online toolkit. This resource will provide information to increase understanding of power-based interpersonal violence (PBIV) and the implications for prevention strategies; the range of systems responses including traditional and trauma-informed approaches; information about various campus-based and legal methods of reporting PBIV (criminal, civil, and Title IX processes); the legal foundations of Title IX and the Clery Act, and how these regulations dictate and impact how colleges respond; the breadth of national and local context, including shifting trends related to federal Title IX guidance; as well as the key features of Emerson’s Sexual Misconduct policies and processes. It is our hope that this toolkit will help dispel any misinformation, reduce confusion, answer some questions, and clarify the scope of institutional processes that are often unknown.

Healing & Advocacy Collective
In the midst of physical distancing, Healing & Advocacy continues to connect with people online. We are supporting survivors, offering virtual workshops and trauma-informed yoga, engaging via social media, and working on strengthening our infrastructure. If you would like to connect with Healing & Advocacy, feel free to email Greta and Melanie at advocate@emerson.edu.

Title IX Access & Equity
Title IX Access & Equity realizes the importance of being able to report incidents of interpersonal violence even when the College is operating remotely. Therefore, we continue to receive and respond to all reports of sex/gender-based harm consistent with the process outlined in the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. This includes providing work and classroom accommodations, protective measures, interim measures, formal investigations, and informal processes. We continue to oversee the College’s centralized review, investigation, and resolution process for all reports of interpersonal violence. In addition to responding to reports of harm, our office continues to provide monthly training workshops for all employees as well as workshops to various members of our community. We are also available to provide workshops on request. We are here when you need us. To connect with Pam or Ryan, please email titleix@emerson.edu.
Logo for "Elma Lewis Center: For Civic Engagement, Learning & Research" Elma Lewis Center
The Elma Lewis Center continues to build and expand community partnerships, including supporting the work of community organizers adapting to the challenges of social solidarity during physical distancing. The Elma Lewis Living Stories project is ongoing, including research, community members’ sharing stories for the archive, and the Call to Artists. Youth programs and projects continue after shifting to virtual sessions in mid-March. The Creative Community Network youth held workshops on mutual aid and connecting with Boston-area activists. Youth LEAD participants engaged in group learning about the community impact of COVID-19 on hyperlocal and national levels. And the Massachusetts Temporary Protection Status Youth Committee participated in multimedia workshops to create a YouTube Channel, an advocacy magazine, and hosted Boston Experimental Theatre documentary showings and talkbacks. Our campus partner Jumpstart transitioned from providing in-school support with preschool partners to supporting teachers and families with at-home learning. The ELC is also piloting virtual music and dance events for workers most impacted by COVID-19 to provide a space of joy in the midst of hardship. You can reach the ELC by email at elmalewiscenter@emerson.edu.
"Bias" written in black and white letteringIdentity-Based Harm (Bias) Incident Reports
This academic year, we received 62 reports of identity-based harm. Although this reflects a slight decrease in the number of reports from the 2018-2019 academic year (68) we must also take into context the mid-semester shift to online learning this spring. The classroom continues to be reported as the highest location in which incidents of identity-based harm occur. Experiences of harm related to ethnicity/culture, race, and gender identity/expression continue to be the most reported. As concerns about COVID-19 increased, there was an uptick in concerns about the targeting of Emersonians who identify as Asian or Asian American while out in the Boston area. Some of this information was shared outside of the identity-based harm reporting process. Aggregate data for the 2019-2020 academic year will be updated to reflect incidents received through the formal end of the semester.
Title IX in black lettering on blue backgroundTitle IX Access & Equity Reports
During the 2019-2020 academic year, 85 reports of violations of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy were received by Title IX Access & Equity. Reports include a range of behaviors and are not limited to sexual assault. Of the 85 reports, Title IX Access & Equity received requests from 6 reporting parties for investigations. All requests were moved forward for investigation. At the request of students or based on an assessment by the staff of Title IX Access & Equity, 20 instances of accommodations, interim measures or protective measures were issued. These measures include some singular or combination of protective measures, including but not limited to No Contact Orders, Stay Away Directives; Third-Party accommodations, and work and classroom accommodations.
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From Haymarket Books
The Pandemic is  Portal – A Conversation with Arundhati Roy, Hosted by Imani Perry
www.haymarketbooks.org/blogs/130-arundhati-roy-the-pandemic-is-a-portal

In her latest essay, “The Pandemic Is a Portal” — from her forthcoming Haymarket Books publication Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction. — Arundhati Roy writes:
What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus. Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality,” trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves.
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Social Justice Center

Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

Updates – January 29, 2020

A Message for the Prophets, Truth Tellers, Advocates, Activists, and Organizers Among Us

Cartoon with two people saying, "How to survive the end of the world"This week, I had a chance to listen to the new podcast episode from How to Survive the End of the World: Learning from the Apocalypse with Grace, Rigor, and Curiosity, released by adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown. These formidable sisters produce a powerful series that is actually not about the apocalyptic nature of our current worldly experience. Instead it explores the end of the world as a shift in the way we understand the present.

The new episode, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Prophet,” featuring Reverend angel Kyodo Williams and Lama Rod Owens, really spoke to me. In this episode, Reverend angel talks about prophetic praxis, or the practice of telling the truth of these times. She skillfully reframes the notion of prophets from the deified who speak into the future to those of us who speak to what is happening right now. Lama Rod notes that, in this sense, he, too, is a prophet as a truth teller. He also reminds us that the prophets of the past got stoned to death, hence the episode’s title, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Prophet.”

The power of Lama Rod’s comments fell hard on me in the days following the nation’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Despite the fact that history has made Dr. King’s ideas more palatable to the masses, the reality is that he spoke the discomforting truth of his time. His commentary on racism, white supremacy, militarization, and capitalism were perceived as a threat to the status quo. These same ideas fifty years later continue to be viewed as extreme and disruptive, even among those who view themselves as liberal.

Reverend angel astutely reminds us that while some of us are working to reveal the truth of this time, others are working to “hold the veil down.” Her words remind me of the arduous nature of social justice work and the depth of resistance there is to the truth that prophets tell. I certainly don’t claim to be a prophet, but I know in speaking truth I, too, might get “stoned,” silenced, ostracized, and accused of colluding. The resistance is real and Lama Rod is right. It is hard out here.

So, how do we continue to speak truth in the face of those who don’t want the truth unveiled? How do we hold onto the truth of these time regardless of the resistance and the risks? How do we persevere when systemic change seems so far out of reach?  Sadly, I don’t have any answers to these questions.

The only thing I know for sure is that we must continue to give voice, we must continue to speak the truth of these times, and we must continue to engage in the prophetic praxis to which Reverend angel refers.

To all of the prophets, truth tellers, advocates, activists, and organizers, your work is not in vain and your voices are not lost in the wind.  Your truth-telling travels across time and space to other likeminded people, bringing light into darkness so that others will know that they are not alone. And standing on the shoulders of imaginaries, like Octavia Butler, you, my friends, are speaking truth into a new future.

“The time for radical liberation is now.” — Reverend angel Kyodo Williams

Notes: Reverend angel Kyodo Williams is a writer, activist, and ordained Zen priest. She is author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace (2000), and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (2016). Lama Rod Owens is an author, activist, and authorized Lama (Buddhist Teacher) in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism and is considered one of the leaders of his generation of Buddhist teachers. He is co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.

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"Bias" written in black and white letteringBias and Identity-Based Harm

Since the Bias Incident Response process was developed in 2015, the Social Justice Center has heard from community members of more than 180 experiences of bias, micro-aggression, and identity-based harm. These are personal and collective stories of deep hurt for individuals in our community, and also include incidents like those that occurred on campus over the past two weeks.

Can you imagine what it might feel like to wake up to anti-Semitic or racist graffiti written all over your neighborhood or on the front door of your home? This is what happened at Emerson last week. Can you imagine how scary it might feel to know that your community, your cultural or religious group, has been targeted? This is what happened here last week. Can you imagine how it might feel to have your sense of safety and belonging shaken? This is what happened last week.

While there are certainly members of the community who may be most impacted, I would hope that all of us are deeply affected by what has happened. In so many ways, this is our neighborhood and the members of our community have been hurt. In the face of these incidents, how might we not only oppose those who seek to unsettle and cause hurt, but restore our community and become our better selves?

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Community-Centered Grants 2020

The Elma Lewis Center is pleased to announce the Spring 2020 project awards for the Community-Centered Grants for social justice work that highlight community-based knowledge, needs, and aspirations. Among the 14 applications, grants were awarded to four projects:

  • Mother Mercy’s Call to Create (C2C), a 10-month immersion pilot project to develop and document the creative process of a small cohort of creatives of color. Awardee: Johnette Marie Ellis, founder of Mother Mercy and Emerson MFA alum.
  • Generational Narratives, a project between EmersonWRITES high school students and their chosen elders exploring social justice issues and legacies of both oppression and strength. Awardee: Mary Kovaleski Byrnes, Emerson faculty and EmersonWRITES curriculum director.
  • Listening Tour of Community Leaders holding space for the construction of peace in present day Colombia using Theater of the Oppressed approaches and interviews with arts organizers in collaboration with ReconectandoLa Familia Ayara, and Otra Escuela, based in Bogotá. Awardee: Kate Wand, Emerson MFA graduate student.
  • Reclaim Puerto Rico, showcasing their first theater play, Las 5 Mujeres de Caguax, a multigenerational Boricua herstory of patriarchy and colonization survival, as well as La casa de abuela, an interactive multimedia art installation that consists of a traditional Puerto Rican grandmother’s home in the countryside. Awardee: Michelle Falcón Fontánez, Emerson MFA graduate student and documentary filmmaker.
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What Inspires Us…
In addition to How to Survive the End of the World, here are other texts we have been exploring.
“Overcoming disability. Overcoming is a peculiar and puzzling concept. It means transcending, disavowing, rising above, conquering. Joy or grief overcome us. An army overcomes it’s enemy. Whoopi Goldberg overcomes dyslexia… overcoming mystifies me…that concept requires dominating, subsiding, defeating something.” – Eli Clare
Cover of book "Politics of Trauma"The Politics of Trauma by Staci K. Haines
“Transformation gives us more choice and agency, while helping us to ask and answer the deep questions of creating meaning and navigating life. It allows us to develop more trust, coordination, and love. We can be with ourselves and others with more presence and attention. It helps us build the skills that trauma and oppression did not teach us – and to use those skills toward equity, interdependence, and a radically different relationship to the planet. It is transformation that sustains over time.” – Staci K. Haines
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

 

Updates – September 4, 2019

A Message from Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity & Social Justice
 

Welcome back Emerson students and faculty, and greetings to new members of the Emerson Community. I offer a special shout-out to Emerson’s staff who have been plugging away all summer with just a week or two of reprieve.

As the fall semester gets underway, I am struck by the throngs of students hanging out in front of the Little Building, a spot once barricaded with scaffolding. I am also energized by the buzz on Boylston St. and delight in the joyous reunions that occur during the 18 second walk signal across Boylston and Tremont. There is something special about that crossing; it reminds me of all the directions from which we have come to be here in this place and in this moment to learn, work, and create.

This is a time of significant transition for all of us. New students hope to find their way, those of us who are returning (or never left) try to settle back into a routine, and all of us feel the pangs of summer’s waning. The sun is setting earlier. Soon, the crisp fall winds will start to dance through the air.

And we begin again.

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New Social Justice Center Events 
 

The Social Justice Center is pleased to announce our Fall 2019 series of events and programs. See the full poster of events below. Gatherings range from Community jam sessions and art events in the new Elma Lewis Center space (148 Boylston St.) to our new Freedom Fridays program beginning this Friday, September 6.

Freedom Friday, September 6, noon @ Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Grow Some Roots: The transition from summer to fall can leave us feeling unsteady. As the temperature drops and the winds begin to swirl, take a moment to plant your own seeds and grow greater rootedness. Leave with your own potted plant to add to your living space.

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Title IX UpdateTitle IX in black lettering on blue background
 
As many of you are aware, the Office of Title IX Access and Equity has been searching for a new Deputy Title IX Coordinator & Investigator. Although the College retains a number of external investigators who continue to conduct Title IX investigations for Emerson, we also seek to have a Title IX Investigator on staff. Our search processes last year were unsuccessful. In an effort to expand the recruitment of viable candidates, we have hired a  firm to assist us with this important search. They have been actively recruiting candidates on our behalf during the summer and we expect to be able to fill this position soon.
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"Bias" written in black and white letteringIdentity-based Harm (Bias, Micro-aggressions, and Structural Oppression)

In 2016, in response to student concerns, the Social Justice Center (formerly the Division of Diversity & Inclusion) developed the Bias Response Program in an effort to provide a central location for reporting incidents of bias. This summer, SJC  staff revisited the program to assess its alignment with our current foundational values. In addition, we sought to clarify the purpose, the scope, and the authority of the program.

Our new approach to identity-based harm (bias, micro-aggressions, and structural oppression) seeks to affirm the lives, experiences, and resilience of people and communities who are most marginalized, while also acknowledging that interpersonal harm in the form of bias, micro-aggressions, and structural oppression continues to occur, even in the places where we should feel most accepted and validated.

For information on identity-based harm or how to share your experience, please visit www.emerson.edu/bias.

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Community Centered Projects and Courses 
Are you a student, staff, or faculty member interested in developing community-centered projects or courses that are built on authentic relationships? The Social Justice Center invites you to a workshop about practices that do this within a social justice frame. Deep experience welcomed. No prior experience necessary. Light lunch provided.
October 30, 12:00 – 1:30, ELC, 148 Boylston St.
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Social Justice Center – Fall 2019
 
Freedom Fridays
Caring for yourself is an act of resistance.Freedom Friday, September 6, noon
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Grow Some Roots
The transition from summer to fall can leave us feeling unsteady. As the temperature drops and the winds begin to swirl, take a moment to plant your own seeds and grow greater rootedness. Leave with your own potted plant to add to your living space
Wednesday, September 18, 4-7pm
ELC, 148 Boylston St.
Music. Poetry. Healing. Organizing.
Storytelling and performances centering the wisdom of Boston-area youth sharing their journeys as artists, organizers, and activists. Join us for music, poetry, and conversation on race, immigration, and identity, as well as personal and collective healing. Featured artists: Angelina Botticelli, Thays Figueiredo, Gabriela Barroso, and Andrine Pierresaint.Freedom Friday, October 4, noon
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Got Game?
Cultures around the globe have traditions that bring their communities together. Playing games creates space for building community and growing skills. Make new connections, play some games, and have fun.
Thursday, October 17, 4-7pm
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Screen Printing for Activists
Activists and communities have long used screen printing to raise awareness in order to create change. Learn the basics of screen printing and leave with your own self-made resistance art, or create something for mutual aid, survival, and mobilization. No experience necessary.

Freedom Friday, November 1, noon
Bordy Auditorium, 216 Tremont Street
Slow Your Roll With Meditative Yoga
Yoga is about more than a physical practice in a crowded and steamy studio. Meditative yoga brings peace of body and mind, and renewed energy. Come find inner peace through a mindfully led meditative yoga practice.

 

Wednesday, November 20, 4-7pm
ELC, 148 Boylston St.
Truth to Power Jam Session
Bring yourself, bring your instrument, and join us in a celebration of Boston-area musicians from the African Diaspora as they speak truth to power through music and spoken word.

Freedom Friday, December 6, noon
Common Ground, 120 Boylston St. 10th floor
Color Outside the Lines
Coloring books are not just for kids. Coloring can reduce stress, stimulate creativity, and foster mindfulness. Come color and leave with supplies to develop your own relaxation practices.
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

 

Updates – January 30, 2019 – MLK Reflection

A red pin on a calendar date for February 21st, Martin Luther King Jr. DayMLK Reflection 

Each January, cities and towns, business and corporations, schools and universities mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. In celebration, we dust off our fragmented memories and pieced-together understandings of King’s life and legacy. Some communities hold church services that conclude with arms linked and slightly off-key renditions of “We Shall Overcome.” In some places, we step out of our daily routine to do community service, demonstrating our commitment to a “day on and not a day off.” And in other places, we come together to discuss society’s most pressing problems against the backdrop of King’s soaring speeches and compelling narratives – “I have a dream that one day…. A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…. Darkness cannot stamp out darkness only light can do that….”

Once during the year, we lift King up, resurrecting him from our collective consciousness. In doing so, we also resurrect our better selves, our yearnings for justice, and our dreams of freedom. We make King kind and generous, patient and conciliatory, and a champion for inclusion in its most sanitized forms.

We choose to forget the King who shut down White clergy who opposed him with the power of his pen in a letter he wrote while in Birmingham Jail, the King who out of frustration exclaimed “Why We Can’t Wait,” and the King who called out “The Three Evils of Society” at the National Conference on New Politics in 1967. This speech is considered one of King’s most revolutionary speeches but we hear little of it.

“We are now experiencing the coming to the surface of a triple prong sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning. That is the sickness of racism, excessive materialism and militarism.”

Some contemporary writers consider King’s speech, “The Three Evils of Society,” a prophetic commentary on the state of the United States today. They are connecting King’s observations about excessive materialism to the present day weaponization of poverty, his remarks about racism to colonialism and the extractivist nature of our society, and his commentary on militarism to border imperialism that is taking place at our southernmost border and all over the world. For me, King’s work is relevant today not because of his poetic calls for us to be better human beings but because of his deep and searing analysis of what prevents us from being better human beings and a better nation. The problem is that we are acculturated to the supremacy of some and the oppression of others, the flow of capitalism instead of the flow of compassion, and our most base urgings toward violence instead of our inner callings toward peace.

Instead of relegating King to a single page in a history book or to a celebration once per year, we need to consider what King’s “radical revolution of values” would look like. What might happen if we all became “maladjusted to injustice”?

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Three stones with "thank you" written on themThank you, Suzanne.

After thirteen years of dedicated service, Suzanne Hinton, Director of Academic Engagement, is leaving Emerson. In addition to her time as a member of the affiliated faculty at Emerson, Suzanne provided support and guidance to generations of Emerson Alternative Spring Break students, worked hand-in hand with numerous faculty across departments to develop service learning opportunities, and partnered with community-based organizations in the Boston area. She also played a critical role in the College obtaining Carnegie Classification as a civically engaged institution.

Suzanne has been an integral member of the Social Justice Center – bringing care, professionalism, and compassion to all aspects of her work and every interaction. Suzanne has served as our in-house photographer, the lone caretaker of the many plants on the Walker 10, and the person who reminds us it’s time to tidy things up in the kitchen, to which we all immediately respond. She will be greatly missed for her kindness and support of all of us.

A few days ago, I asked Suzanne if she had any preference for what I might say about her time at Emerson in this announcement. She replied, “Well, you could say that I gave it the old college try…I learned a lot from some hilarious mistakes…and I became a much better listener.” This represents the essence of who Suzanne is; she is self-effacing, puts others before herself, and has an incredible work ethic. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to work with Suzanne during her time at Emerson. We wish Suzanne peace and abundant joy in all of her future endeavors, and look forward to seeing her walking her dog, Muffin Top, in JP.

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STAY TUNED FOR EXCITING NEWS FROM THE SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTER!

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Title IX in black lettering on blue backgroundTitle IX Update

Many of you are aware of the Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations. These regulations, if implemented as currently proposed, would likely reduce reporting of incidents, increase exposure to trauma for people reporting, create an imbalance of support based on access to resources, and significantly alter Emerson’s handling of reports of power-based interpersonal violence. The proposed changes would require hearings in which parties are cross-examined by advisors. This shift has the potential to put Emerson staff members in offices beyond Title IX Access & Equity who are currently involved in the Title IX process into conflicting roles as process administrators, advisors, and supervisors. For more information about Emerson’s Sexual Misconduct process and the proposed changes, please see www.emerson.edu/policy/sexual-misconduct and KnowYourIX.org. I extend thanks and appreciation to members of the Emerson community who submitted comments to the Department of Education.

This flux in the landscape of Title IX on a national level has had an impact on our ability to fill the Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Investigator position. The search remains open and we continue to review applications for appropriate qualifications. Reports of violations of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy continue to be processed and investigated by a talented group of highly skilled external investigators. We will keep the community informed on our progress with this search.

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Bias Report Update

“We are all wounded at times…many of us remain wounded in the place where we would know love.”  bell hooks

During the Fall 2018 semester, the Social Justice Center received 18 reports of bias-related incidents. The vast majority of reports occurred in Emerson classrooms and involved bias based on gender identity and expression, and ethnicity and culture. Although reporting is down this semester from last fall, there was an increase in anonymous reporting this semester. Follow-up on non-anonymous reports may include the provision of support to the person(s) affected, education for individual(s) engaging in bias, or other actions.

If you have been impacted by bias and would like to connect to someone in the Social Justice Center and/or report your experience, you can do so by submitting a report at www.emerson.edu/bias with the option of remaining anonymous, emailing bias@emerson.edu, or calling (617) 824-8528.

Social Justice Center
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528

Updates – October 10, 2018 – Indigenous Peoples Day

A Call from Native PeoplePoster reading "Indigenous Peoples' Day Boston"
Native people have been calling for an end to the observance of Columbus Day for decades. This call is not just about changing the name of the holiday. It is an act that recognizes the genocide of millions of Indigenous people, the theft of lands that began with the arrival of Columbus, and the historic and current wrongs committed against the Indigenous people and their sovereignty.

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Photo of Samantha M. Ivery

Samantha M. Ivery has joined the Social Justice Center as Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives. Samantha brings depth of experience in advancing anti-oppression and social justice efforts. As a former Assistant Dean in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership at Dartmouth College as well as Director of the Center for Women and Gender, Samantha’s programs, development activities, workshops, and engagement with students and student groups were informed by critical social theories including Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Theory. 
 
Most recently, as Director of Projects for Campus Equity &

Inclusion at Bennington College, Samantha developed the strategic foundation for the college’s new equity and inclusion initiative. She also designed and co-facilitated anti-oppression dialogue groups for faculty and staff, partnered with the Library staff to curate social justice online materials, and served as a resource to the Bennington Community around diversity and equity issues.

Samantha is completing her Ph.D. in Higher Education at Indiana University. Her dissertation focuses on undergraduate black women’s perceptions of gendered racial micro-aggressions. Samantha has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. As Director of Diversity & Equity Initiatives, Samantha will work collaboratively with the Vice President for Equity & Social Justice in advancing diversity, equity, and social justice efforts at Emerson. Please welcome Samantha to our community.
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Advisory: This section contains information that may emotionally affect survivors.
Just the Facts: One in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, which for Emerson students would fill the Culture Majestic Theater. One in two trans people will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In 8 out of 20 cases, the individual committing the assault is known to the survivor. Only 28% of survivors report to police. Only 2% of sexual assaults reported to police are found to be false (U.S. Depart of Justice). Contact the Healing & Advocacy Collective at advocate@emerson.edu or at 180 Tremont St. Rooms 303 & 304 for confidential support and advocacy. Report concerns to the Title IX Coordinator at 617-824-8999 or at titleix@emerson.edu, 8 Park Plaza, Room 230.
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"Bias" written in black and white letteringHave you or someone you know experienced a Bias Incident? 
Report anonymously at www.emerson.edu/bias or directly to the Social Justice Center by emailing bias@emerson.edu
 
Emerson College
(617) 824-8528