by Dr. Donald Guy Generals
Community College of Philadelphia
Actively engaging in conversations around social justice, diversity and inclusion happens regularly at Community College of Philadelphia through a variety of events open to faculty, staff and students. With the college operating mostly online since March 2020, these events continued virtually, helping us keep connected during the pandemic. Creating spaces to educate one another and share experiences provided an important outlet for engagement and critical thinking. After we witnessed the indescribable footage of the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, these dialogues became even more essential.
As a college, we responded with the Enough Is Enough: Privilege and Injustice in 2020 teach-in series, largely facilitated by Erica Harrison, our college’s director of special events and community relations. Each particular teach-in session focused on a specific topic. We needed a way to bring our community together and support one another during this time of anger, fear and disbelief. We needed to take action. We needed to continue critical conversations about racism and social inequities.
Guest panelists contributing to these sessions included state representatives, local advocates, doctors, lawyers, city officials, and our own faculty and staff. Our first discussion in June was about police reform. A discussion about violence against the transgender community, led by our Marc David LGBTQ Center, discussed ways to educate others and create change while faced with these horrifying statistics: 2020 was one of the deadliest years on record for transgender and nonbinary people, and trans women of color – especially Black trans women – experience disproportionate levels of violence and make up the majority of trans murder victims. A panel about allyship addressed how to truly be an ally to the Black community, and how everyone can be part of the solution to end racism and intolerance. Our virtual solidarity walk, in honor of George Floyd, brought attention to this issue as we walked in our neighborhoods. We addressed issues surrounding the safety of air and water in urban communities, and we talked about how to assist small, Black-owned businesses during the pandemic. Our latest “Enough Is Enough” event featured the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium and a discussion of facts and myths about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Each session has attracted large numbers of the college community, and some were open to the public. Gatherings especially for students were held after some of the teach-ins, with professionals in attendance to help them process feelings of trauma, sadness and confusion.
Individuals from around the college have assembled dozens of resources for further education, from movies, books and organizations to volunteer with to podcasts, a glossary of terms and a list of businesses that need support.
“Enough Is Enough” will continue, as will all efforts to combat hatred and fear, support equality, and affirm the fact that Black lives matter.
This post is the second in an occasional series from DEI committee members that will highlight issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Dr. Donald Guy Generals is the president of Community College of Philadelphia and NCMPR’s National Pacesetter of the Year for 2021.