I took live notes on our bi-weekly EDI Book Reading meeting on “Chapter 2: Building an Equity-Minded Campus Culture.” in the book “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk” by Tia Brown McNair, Estela Mara Bensimon, and Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux.
Thank you to Asantewa Dawson and Lori-Beth Larsen for being our facilitators. I really appreciated the questions asked of the community and the way that people engaged bravely and constructively with the conversation. I meant for this to be live notes, but it turns out that I am posting a few hours after our meeting.
As is becoming a habit, we started our conversation with a reminder of our Code of Conduct and our commitment to open conversation. We also asked permission of those in attendance to do these live notes.
What is Equity Mindedness?
Chapter 2 starts with a reminder that the term equity is used in a variety of contexts and it is important to have a shared definition of what we mean by equity. This is a reflection of chapter 1, but for the sake of this chapter, McNair, Bensimon, and Malcom-Piqueux presented 3 principles of equity. The 3 principles are presented, very briefly here.
- Equity as a means of corrective justice.
- Equity is an antiracist project to confront racism built into institutional structures.
- Equity letting practitioners see whiteness as a norm. (Page 21)
Our conversation turned to the ten obstacles and case studies examining those obstacles. I’ve captured many of our questions about the obstacles.
Part of our goal needs to be to meet people where they are. If that is the case, how can a person examine privilege inherent in whiteness, if that is all they have ever known? This question is surrounded by and contained within many of the obstacles as shared in the chapter- so it is about building a habit of asking questions and interrogating our own positionality?
What does it mean to decolonize our professional behaviors? (in hiring, in establishing workload, defining who does EDI work, and developing professional learning practices.)
Finding and maintaining a balance between poverty and the real need to address it with the realization that racialized poverty- or blaming racialized practices on poverty/class is a real need. Is it about naming the differences between the types of poverty?
In terms of some of the “solutions” expressed in the book chapter’s resolutions or solutions to the obstacles: Some of the solutions required people to make investments of their own. “In my own time” is a common refrain for how we try to address systemic inequity. What are the roles of the institution in supporting (financially, in terms of time, and in terms of reprioritizing activities) to foster equity activities? Who is responsible for this work? How are we building a profession that doesn’t unjustly burden responsibility for equity on colleagues of color?
We talked a lot about the use of language to describe cultural groups and regional uses of language. We know that we need to meet people where they are because in many cases this can be troubling for the people who might be counted in these groups but who have very different cultural (or even regional) backgrounds. We talked a lot about terms like Hispanic and Pacific-Islander. The uses of these terms need to be considered for the local/regional context and support the realities that some of the people who are considered parts of these groups would not identify within those groups. (e.g. Native Hawaiian vs Pacific-Islander)
What do we do with the struggle between the communities we serve which might be highly invested in white-supremacist systems/ (What if your college is in a state, county, or district that would prefer that the institution not do equity work?
What does it mean to work toward equity, and how do we get into that mindset? Part of our work has to be to ask tough questions in polite, understanding, but inflexible ways so that equity is a consistent refrain.
The discussion in our meeting room was varied and interesting. These notes only catch a small portion of the overall comments.
Thank you to everyone who participated for giving your permission for me to take and share these notes. I would also like to ask that if anyone wants to expand on these comments, please do!