Listen. Learn. Act.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit these resources—a small sampling of the many on campus—for ways to listen, learn, and act in the fight for social justice