LOVE Pilot Program Hosts First Teach-In

November 10, 2020 Caitlin Burns

By Josephine Mueller ’21

The Arcadia Living our Values Experience (LOVE) Pilot Program held its first teach-in session, “An Arcadia Call to Action: How can we be better antiracists?”, on Oct. 22, which focused on what the Arcadia community can do to fight anti-Black racism. 

Attendees heard from three panelists: Dr. Doreen Loury, assistant professor of Sociology; Dr. Jessie Guinn, assistant dean of STEM at The College of Global Studies; and Dr. Jennifer Riggan, professor of International Studies. 

“Acknowledge that you have been misinformed, misled, and miseducated,” Dr. Loury said. “You've been misinformed by all, you've been misled by all, and your education has not prepared you for what is going on when we talk about antiracism and anti-Blackness.”

Dr. Loury urged the audience to be honest with themselves: acknowledge racism and their own privilege; see how they hurt and help the situation; and listen to the feelings and experiences of people of color. She encouraged each person to go beyond words and put change into action, using former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as an example—calling him a man ahead of his time for standing up and sacrificing what he had. She emphasized that members of the audience should understand that this process is uncomfortable.

“It's going to be a discussion to help all of us be better at supporting our students and ourselves effectively in this evolving racial moment and the persistence of anti-Black racism,” said Dr. Loury. “We have to learn to acknowledge, respect, and engage beyond words and move toward action. This is a moment to listen and reflect.”

Dr. Guinn shared some of his own experiences abroad and at home dealing with racism, including constantly being overlooked for his role when traveling in England. 

“Whenever we would go to different departments and they were meeting me for the first time, they would extend a hand and say ‘Dr. Guinn, nice to meet you,’ and they would reach for my white colleague’s hand each and every time,” said Dr. Guinn. “Was it hurtful? Was it a microaggression? Yes, it was. Was it unintentional? Yes, but at the same time that attitude and belief was a racist thought.” 

Dr. Guinn went on to address some steps to becoming an antiracist by understanding the stories and struggles of others by knowing your neighbors, doing cross-cultural learning, and calling out injustices. The first way to do these small steps, Dr. Guinn urged, is to: expose yourself to new perspectives by exploring student affinity organizations, decolonizing bookshelves, and consuming diverse media; question origins, policies, and traditions by delving into the history of things, reviewing policies and traditions, and developing a hunger for change; and recognize the role each person plays.

Dr. Riggan spoke of how white people can be better antiracists by listening instead of speaking—to wait for the call to speak of their experiences and be humble. Dr. Riggan discussed the three levels to combating anti-Black racism as a white person: 

  • On the personal level: for white people to accept their imperfections, talk to those who can help them grow, and to be a good ally—not a savior. 
  • On the institutional level: support and participate in existing initiatives and activities that combat anti-Black racism; keep tabs on these initiatives and hold institutions accountable for them; push for activities like the LOVE Pilot program to be required, not optional, develop and participate in feedback loops across the university, and push for transparency. 
  • On the interpersonal level: face racism, be ready for those tough talks, and be strategic. 

“You will be uncomfortable, you will make mistakes,” Dr. Riggan said. “I'm going to make mistakes and hopefully people will call me out on it and educate me about it. You will grow, you will be uncomfortable, but you have to accept your imperfection first.” 

After hearing from each speaker, attendees were able to ask questions to the panel. Some students shared concerns about being ignored and fears that the issues they bring up will be again. The panelists assured them that it is okay to speak up and that change can happen when students come together. Other questions included addressing someone who is racist and in a place of power over you. The panel advised that it may be best to walk away from that fight. However, in the case of a powerful individual in your life, to get people who are also powerful on your side to help intervene. 

The LOVE Pilot Program is a  space for Arcadia students, staff, and faculty to explore issues of identity, racism, and systemic discrimination, and to examine their own role within society as change agents. Led by Faculty Director for CTLM and Professor of Education Dr. Ellen Skilton and CTLM Graduate Student Fellow and International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate student Monica Anna Day ’20M, the program engages in critical conversation about the lived values and culture of a University community that is unafraid to look at racist ideas and practices, and how to acquire tools for dismantling a system built on injustice.  To find out more or join the project in Spring 2021, email lovepilot@arcadia.edu.  The video of this teach-in is available upon request and will be posted to the CTLM web page shortly. 

“This is not a journey where you reach your destination and we're in the Shangri-La of no racism,” said Guinn. “We are going to constantly be on this journey and we're happy that you will be joining this journey with us.”

Learn more about the LOVE Pilot Program and the next Teach-in.

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