Icons of an ear (listen), a brain (learn), and a fist (act).

Combating Racism:
Listen. Learn. Act.
May 2021

Sharing the theme “Listen. Learn. Act.” introduced by the UO’s Common Reading Program for the year, the resources here provide opportunities for you to participate, contribute and move toward change. They also highlight and elevate work to help create greater understanding of the full heritage of African Americans and BIPoC communities who endure racial injustice and continue with courage, contributions and creativity. We will continue adding resources and highlighting work throughout the academic year as we know this is a journey our community and society as a whole must continuously walk.

 

Image of protesters in Eugene, OR on May 25, 2020. Photo credit: Elizabeth Gabriel; KLCC

May 25: A Day of Enlightenment

On April 20, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three counts in the murder of George Floyd. It was so much and so little in the continuing historical fight against racism. May 25 will mark the one-year anniversary since the murder occurred. For BIPoC who know the depths of inequality and racism, this act was not “shocking,” but this particular violence catalyzed, in the midst of a pandemic, protests in 60 countries across the globe, as well as in our community. Now, a year later, the George Floyd Memorial Center calls for the anniversary to be a “Day of Enlightenment.”

Anniversaries are a time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. Diverse communities have different lived experiences and so, as introduced by the Common Reading Program this year, we must as an institution and as individuals “Listen. Learn. Act.” We know the journey is long. Our movement forward will include missteps. But it is imperative for us to keep trying at every opportunity to work toward change.

George Floyd Memorial Center

 
“Our voices were heard and these voices will no longer be silenced or ignored.”
George Floyd Memorial Center
 
“While we are encouraged, we remain steadfast in the fight for justice and true freedom for Black and brown people in this country. We hope today will stand as a precedent in the fight for equality and the battle against police brutality and systemic racism.”
Jamar Bean, Multicultural Center program advisor, and Rosa Chavez, Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence, associate director, letter to students in response to the Chauvin verdict

 

Ear icon (listen)

 

Listen.

 

Asian, Desi, Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021

 

Celebrate, Advocate, and #StopAsianHate

What ties together the many strands of those who count themselves among Asian Desi Pacific Island Americans? “With the multitude of diversity within the ADPI community, the common thread has been the importance of family and community,” says Sugam Singh, a multicultural academic counselor at the UO. That’s a visible thread in the stories celebrating Asian Desi Pacific Island American heritage month, and one you can detect in a “Duck Stops Here” podcast featuring Asian action movie megastar and UO alumnus Daniel Wu. Wu’s activism has contributed significantly to the discussions around #StopAsianHate in the wake of recent crimes.

Asian Desi Pacific Island Heritage Month  

 

“We must use this year’s celebration as a means to have difficult conversations and realize ways to ensure the safety and thriving of ADPI culture and all the people it represents.”
Sugam Singh, a multicultural academic counselor at the UO

Brain icon (learn)

Learn.

From left: Design for Spacial Justice fellows Karen Kubey, Kayin Talton Davis, and Cleo Davis

Unlearning Racist Design Practices

Portland artists and educators Kayin Talton Davis and Cleo Davis are challenging architecture students to unlearn racist design practices by collaborating directly with the communities they design for. They are also asking these future architects and designers to center Black joy in the process. In the ongoing (re)Building Cornerstones studio series, part of the School of Architecture & Environment’s Design for Spatial Justice Initiative, the Davises are leading students in analyzing Portland’s decades-long, systemic obstacles to Black communities realizing the benefits of space and place, while pushing students to design for a more equitable and just future. Pictured from left, pre-pandemic: Design for Spatial Justice fellows Karen Kubey, Kayin Talton Davis, and Cleo Davis.

Honor the Heritage

“There has been so much harm from design communities, whether it’s through intellectual theft, or gentrification and condos going up. There is this level of trust and respect that has to be made for the community.”
Cleo Davis, Design for Spatial Justice faculty member

Icon of a fist (act)

Act.

Students in caps and gowns at the 2019 UO Graduation wearing family heritage items

A diploma is an act of resistance

If you are looking for inspiration and direction to “act,” you can find multitudes at the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence and Multicultural Center graduation, Black Cultural Center graduation, Lavender graduation (for LGBTQ), IMPACT graduation, and Nontraditional/Veteran graduation. These students have courageously and with resilience and tenacity kept moving forward, despite continued systemic injustice and a pandemic disproportionally impacting their communities. They acted again and again and, in the words of Rosa Chavez and Jamar Bean, their “ . . . hard-earned diploma is an act of resistance.” We know their postgraduate actions will continue to benefit us all.

Graduations

“What has been most evident during this time is that you are the change . . . You have inspired many of us—faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners—to continue to act. Without your activism, dedication, energy, engagement, and focus we would not be at this point. You have made our ancestors proud.”
Jamar Bean, MCC Program Advisor, Rosa Chavez, CMAE Associate Director, Letter to students