The Professional Staff of the Multicultural and International Student Support and Engagement (MISSE) Team have been purely reflecting on a statement that combines the intentions of the current realities of today; the ongoing struggles that have been occurring in our country (and globally); the myriad of feelings these realities have on members of MISSE Staff, UI students, staff, faculty, and accompanying communities; an actionable response that is more than words, and offers a pathway that does not stop at acknowledgement or awareness-building- but creates an opportunity to sustain dialogue and call to action. Here's our attempt-
MISSE recognizes the long withstanding history of anti-Black racism in our society, which continues to cause multiple forms of anger, frustration, fear, and pain. The past couple of weeks, we have brought our attention to the ongoing (state-sanctioned) violence against Black people with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Sean Reed. The ongoing violence against Trans People of Color, with at least 12 lives (known to be) lost this year, including Nina Pop and Tony McDade. Murders that are at the hands and witness of police brutality; and our society’s fascination with policing/patrol culture. For some, this may be among the first to bear witness to the attention of anti-Black racism, settler-colonialism, and white-supremacy; and for many others, it is the ongoing and layered reality that takes a toll on the mental health and physical bodies of Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
While naming anti-Black racism, settler-colonialism, and white-supremacy is not a new (social) issue; we recognize that our MISSE department has fallen short in these areas. We understand the ways our thinking, actions, programming, and initiatives have not truly centered the practices of anti-Blackness or Black students. We recognize that each area of MISSE, not only the Afro House, holds responsibility to promote Black student success. Therefore, we commit to giving full visibility to the narratives, and experiences across the Black Diaspora, such as: Africans, African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinidades, Afro-Indigenous, Black Queer and Trans people, biracial, and multiracial folx; while also naming and combating anti-Blackness within disability justice, and the Latinx, Pan-Asian, Queer and Trans, international and immigrant communities.
We recognize that the ways in which we intentionally combat systemic racism and ongoing oppression is multidimensional. It takes continuous intentional efforts and deliberate steps to unlearn the thoughts and behaviors that continue to perpetuate in our daily life. For our non-Black community, we need to continue to self-interrogate: How is my engagement serving and uplifting the Black community? How could my engagement be harming the Black community? What is my silence contributing to? What did I learn about myself from my initial reaction? What am I currently doing that continues to perpetuate systemic racism? How should I continue to engage in deep internal reflection? There has been extensive messaging shared, educational resources promoted, and tangible action taken by members of our communities, which are all valid ways to show support and solidarity; and we can do more. We have created a non-exhaustive resource guide to facilitate your internal reflection and expand your awareness:
We, as the MISSE Team, promote participation in active listening, self-reflection, and self-education. We also commit to doing this labor internally, within our institution, and in our Iowa City community. We commit to continue supporting our Hawkeye family with open hearts and honest dialogue. We want to offer a three-part virtual dialogue series for students, staff, and faculty to engage further on helping to challenge our assumptions, confront systemic racism, and engage in collective healing towards racial justice.
- My Experiences with Racism Part I: Recognizing how I'm feeling and what my feelings mean right now - Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 6:00-7:30pm CDT
- My Experiences with Racism Part II: Naming and unpacking systemic racism and how I’m contributing towards it – Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 6:00-7:30pm CDT
- Allyship, Accomplice, and Co-Conspirator: Understanding how I can show up and do work (with self and the community) - Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 6:00-7:30pm CDT
Tabitha, Shirleena, Lin, Prisma, Emma, and Thomas are here for you- we acknowledge the COVID-19 global pandemic may have set limits on our potential to engage in-person; and know that the past three months our department has continued to offer avenues for community connection building. We are often recognized by- home away from home- yet we want you to know that while away from your campus home, we're here to offer support. Need someone to talk to, process through an experience, or make a connection- know we can offer that.
Tabitha Wiggins, Associate Director
Shirleena Terrell, Coordinator, Afro House
Shuhui Lin, Coordinator, International Student Support and Engagement
Prisma Ruacho, Coordinator, Asian Pacific American Cultural Center
Emma Welch, Coordinator, Pride House
Thomas Arce, Coordinator, Latino Native American Cultural Center