Guidance for Faculty + Resources to Address Racism
As seasoned instructors, we may feel comfortable teaching hard material we are expert in. But how do we go about responding to the extraordinary racial crisis wracking our nation? Do we stay awkwardly silent and stick to the assigned material, especially if we aren’t experts on racial justice? Or do we take the risk and engage?
Our advice: Engage
Prejudice: Any negative beliefs, feelings, judgments, or opinions we hold about people based on their group membership
Discrimination: Action based on prejudice. Reminder of Pace University’s Policy and Procedure on Discrimination, Non Sex-Based Harassment and Retaliation (PDF)
Racism: Racial prejudice that has been incorporated into the functions of institutions, corporations, and social systems such as universities, healthcare organizations, and governmental policies. When the majority group in power makes decisions based upon racial prejudice, this can lead to unjust sociopolitical barriers and policies against the minority group
Oppression: Denied access to power. Divides people, becomes the consciousness of the people, institutionally reinforced, economic and social imbalances
Privilege: Unearned benefits that accrue to dominant groups based upon skin color, gender, sex, class, ability, religion, etc.; awards or advantages given to dominant groups without earning and/or asking for them. Privilege is usually invisible to the receiver
Microaggression: an everyday exchange that leads to a sense of subordination based on one or more social identities, including: race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, nationality, religion, and disability
Be Aware of the Negative Health Impacts due to Race-Related Stress
Intense emotional reactions:
- Substance Use
- Heart Disease
- Muscle Tension
- Changes in sleep hours, sleep quality, and sleep patterns
How to Signal Compassion & Empathy to Students
Acknowledge and speak out: Sometimes the discomfort of not knowing what to say, not wanting to offend, or the perception that race is irrelevant to the course can lead faculty to stay silent on the issue of race. When you do this, you are perpetuating the status quo and may even be contributing to students’ and colleagues’ pain experiences.
- “With everything that is currently happening in the country, I realize that it is hard to focus on coursework. Thank you for coming to class. I want to create a space for dialogue before we delve into our studies”
- “Let's have a moment of silence to remember and honor the lives we have lost. [After a minute...] We live in an incredibly difficult and painful time. I acknowledge the fear and uncertainty that you are feeling. I am here for anyone who needs to be heard or needs time to process. To our Black community: We see you. We appreciate you. We stand with you.”
Be genuine and show humility: Acknowledge your fears or discomfort around the issue, and refrain from getting defensive. Understand that Students’ emotions and views are raw.
- “I know that many of you are hurting right now because of everything that is happening in the country, and I am here for all of you.”
Start implementing “micro-affirmations” in the classroom: Micro-affirmations are “small acts… which occur wherever people wish to help others to succeed.” (Rowe, 2008). They involve creating opportunity, an inclusive environment, actively listening, and validating experiences of students of marginalized identities. In doing so, you can give credit to students who may not be celebrated for their work in other spaces, and provide support when they experience failure.
- “You have been doing amazing work on your project, and you should be very proud; I can’t wait to see the end product.”
Show empathy: Acknowledge the effects of race and other intersecting identities on your students and show flexibility in your teaching. Invite them to engage with you outside of lectures. If they do, focus on listening to them and validating them, without judgment. Be open-minded and consistent about deadlines and accommodations.
- “I know that current events hit close to home for some of us. I want to be flexible where I can on assignments. If you need this, please reach out to me after class or by email.”
Discuss race and oppression in the classroom: It is necessary to engage directly in conversation of race and race-based violence in class – in any subject. Do not burden faculty or students of color who regularly experience racism with having to take responsibility for starting these conversations. Do research so that you can safely bring this into the classroom.
- Course goals
- Class content
- Classroom discussions and problem solving
- Knowing (and Re-Knowing Yourself)
Strategies for Being an Effective Ally
Awareness – Exploration of one’s cultural values, biases, and assumptions. Acknowledge your role.
- Take the Race Harvard Implicit Bias Test to learn more about your internalized anti-Black biases.
- Reflect on your biases and learn more about how to overcome anti-Black bias in this TED talk by Verna Myers.
- Read this article by Peggy McIntosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (PDF), to more readily see how you experience White privilege in your daily life.
- Read this article by Robin DiAngelo that provides a brief overview of white fragility as well as 5 tasks white people can do to contribute to change.
- Read “How to Be An Antiracist” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and/or watch Dr. Kendi‘s interview on this topic.
- You’ve probably heard the call to “defund the police”. Read this short article to learn what this means.
- Read “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
- Read this timeline of some of the racist events that have occurred throughout history to contextualize the anger and desperation that have fueled recent protests.
- Visit this page as well as the Obama Foundation for more anti-racism education.
- Learn about racial trauma by listening to this podcast: Coping While Black: A Season Of Traumatic News Takes A Psychological Toll and reading Racism's Psychological Toll.
Skills – Develop skills in communicating what you have learned, which can be developed in training sessions, role playing, a support network, or a safe environment to practice advocacy.
Take Action – The most vulnerable, but critical step. Action is the only way to change systems.
- Don’t be a bystander to racist acts. Watch this video for how to respond to one.
- Talk to friends & family about racism constructively. Avoiding these conversations only perpetuates racism. Lean into difficult conversations and challenge racist comments.
- Use Resistbot to easily contact your government representatives. The bot will turn your text into a letter and deliver it to the elected officials that you choose.
Mental Health Resources
- Black Mental Health - Connect with a Therapist
- Black Female Therapists Application for Free Therapy Service
- Fund to help cover the cost of therapy: Therapy Fund | Loveland
- QTPoC Mental Health Practitioner Directory
- Therapy For Black Girls
- Therapy For Black Men
- Black Virtual Therapist Network
- Inclusive Therapists
- Indian Health Service Mental Health Programs
- Latinx Therapy Database
Online Support Groups:
- Real to the People: Free virtual group sessions to support grieving, connecting, and learning, open to anyone nationwide with sign-up
- Therapy for Black Girls: Online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women, including a free podcast aimed at making mental health topics accessible
- Sista Afya Support Groups: Group for learning from other women & learning life skills to improve well-being ($10/session; contact email@example.com if fee is prohibitive)
- Ethel's Club: Paid membership-based virtual community with classes, live events and wellness resources for promoting wellbeing in people of color
Counseling Center BLM statement:
Additional Community Resources:
- Balanced Black Girl | Community Healing Guide
- Black Lives Matter Meditations for Healing Racial Trauma
- Liberate Meditation App for Black Indigenous and People of Color
- How To Manage Your Mental Health In The Face Of Discrimination
- Liberate Meditation for BIPOC
- Black Lives Matter Meditations
- Staff, faculty, and administrators of color at Pace Collective: POCC@pace.edu
Point students to resources:
For students seeking mental health services: Pace Counseling Center
To reach the counselor-on-call, who will pick up after hours and on weekends
- NYC: (212) 346-1800
- White Plains: (914) 422-4300
- Pleasantville: (914) 773-3400
For students seeking to request academic accommodations: Student Accessibility Services
- NYC: (212) 346-1526
- Westchester campuses: (914) 773-3710
Pace Chief Diversity Officer
Phone: (212) 346-1879
For anyone looking to report instances of discrimination: Office of Institutional Equity & Title IX Compliance
Executive Director of Title IX Compliance and Title IX Coordinator
Phone: (212) 346-1310
Sr. EEO Coordinator
Phone: (212) 346-1310
“Explore Brown University.” Effective Teaching Is Anti-Racist Teaching | Sheridan Center
Rowe, M. (2008). Micro-affirmations and micro-inequities. Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, 1, 45-48.
Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. “Effective Teaching Is Anti-Racist Teaching.” The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, 2020.