Race and Reflection Summer Series cultivates Elon faculty and staff as inclusive allies

The four-part series kicked off with 75 faculty and staff attending a session on the construction of racial history and institutional memory.

Led by diversity educators within the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity Education (CREDE) and co-sponsored by the Office of Leadership and Professional Development, the first session in a four-part lunchtime series on race and reflections was entitled, “History & Memory.” Members of Elon’s faculty, staff, and senior administration, as well as graduate students joined in on these discussions around the creation and validation of incomplete histories and how these legacies are often perpetuated through a racialized lens.

​​Elon has joined nearly 50 universities in examining the historical and contemporary issues of race and addressing them as part of the Consortium on Universities Studying Slavery. Such universities include Brown University, Clemson University, Harvard University, James Madison University, Wake Forest University, and the College of William and Mary.

Building upon the work of the provost-appointed Committee on Elon History and Memory, the CREDE staff engaged attendees in discussions around the levels of responsibility that individuals and institutions play in the retelling and repairing of historical harms towards marginalized communities, especially communities of color. “We are excited to provide a space and construct an environment where Elon faculty and staff can engage in robust dialogue on race and racism as co-learners," said Tyrone Jean, assistant dean of students and director of the CREDE. "These conversations are difficult yet necessary in the pursuit of racial equity.” 

The second session on July 16 is entitled, “Education: How and What We Teach and the Subsequent Erasure and Re-Membering of the ‘Other.’” Kiah Glenn, assistant director of the CREDE, will share examples of how the U.S. education system conveys incomplete descriptions of histories that equip younger generations with inaccurate or invisible histories surrounding people with underrepresented racial and ethnic identities. “People often don't know the unintentional and intentional ways in which the system of education can disadvantage marginalized groups," Glenn said. "This session will highlight these disadvantages in education and help participants understand their own personal educations and ways in which they can help change the system.”

The third session on July 23 is entitled, “Constructing Realities – Media, Racial History, and Memory,” where Brandon Bell, assistant director of the CREDE, will share research on how media portrayals influence people’s perceptions of racial stereotypes and inequities. Attendees will gain the opportunity to develop their media literacy pertaining to issues of race, ethnicity, equity, and inclusion. “The media we passively and actively consume has profound impacts on our understanding of cultures and things different from us," Bell said. "As society continues to grapple with issue of inequity across our lived experience, the ability to critically engage the media will be an increasingly important skill.”

The final session on July 30 is entitled, “Criminal Justice System or a System of Criminal Injustices?”  Tyrone Jean will share how legal practices over time have shaped historical and cultural narratives around marginalized people as criminals, leading to racial disparities and high incarceration rates.

Buffet lunch is provided for attendees at each session. To sign up for the upcoming sessions on July 16, 23, and 30 between noon and 2 p.m., please register via the Office of Leadership and Professional Development website at www.elon.edu/olpd.