ARC Resources

Q&A about the ARC Petition

ARC has been advocating for 6 demands – Why are you prioritizing this issue right now?

Our anti-racist demands are holistic; they address every aspect of campus life and the personal and structural relationships that constitute it. We felt that it was necessary to prioritize the demand for outside consultants because we believe that facilitators who are not embedded in the hierarchies of our institution can best exercise the kind of perspective and care necessary to appraise our College and recommend change. 

We can be guided and helped by outside facilitation in our forward-looking, if difficult, long-term institutional work. We call for this to be a careful, deliberate, community-produced effort in self-education and change that extends beyond the work of anti-bias training.

Who is ARC? How can you join? Why is this group legitimate? Aren’t you just self-appointed?

ARC is made up of students, staff, and faculty who came together in June 2020 after several long-standing groups on campus, including Black, Faculty, and Stuff; Faculty of Color; the Puerto Rican Alliance; and the Latino Faculty and Staff found that their demands that the Brooklyn College administration address structural racism were either repeatedly rejected or ignored over months and years.  ARC includes faculty, staff, and students who have been engaged in anti-racist pedagogy and action at Brooklyn College over many years. We are student leaders; faculty who teach, research, and write about racism and social change; staff who keep the College functioning and understand its inner-workings and inequities.

Anyone who shares our guiding principles and wants to work on these issues is welcome to join! You can join here

Isn’t the administration already doing this? What’s the difference? How is ARC’s approach to anti-racism different from the Administration’s approach?

The Brooklyn College administration’s “Anti-Racist Implementation Team” is organized in a top-down fashion by the President and her cabinet. We appreciate the attention to these issues but are adamant that anti-racist work cannot be imposed by those who exercise enormous power over people who have little to no job security. We cannot have honest conversations, an accurate analysis of the problems, or generate solutions in a context where those responsible for harm and who hold the power are asking their subordinates to report this harm. Anti-racist work cannot be advanced by people who have been pressured by their bosses to participate in an implementation team. Hierarchical relations within the community are a substantive part of the racist structures we are addressing and hoping to dismantle. 

Anti-racist work must be done in a context that explicitly rejects and analyzes hierarchy and embraces decentralized and collaborative decision making. The control over decision making in regards to anti-racist practice and material redistribution cannot be held be monopolized by those with the most sway over campus institutions. 

A true racial justice team must be led by faculty, staff and students working on the frontlines everyday. We do not reject the idea of an implementation team, but the leadership of this team cannot be represented by those who are in conflicting upper administrative positions, whose relationship to the larger campus community has for too long represented hierarchical non-cooperation.

Isn’t this outside consultancy too expensive? The College is broke, isn’t this a lost cause?

If the Brooklyn College administration wanted to raise funds and generate support for anti-racist intiatives, they could. We cannot allow them to use austerity logics to legitimize decades of lack of funding for programs, staff, and faculty. These are political and moral choices. Those at the helm of our University and College calculate that the organized abandonment of our students, staff, and faculty is tolerable; they have chosen not to speak out against chronic underfunding; they have chosen not to use the tools at their disposal to raise the alarm and the funds needed to create a Black-life affirming campus. 

Aren’t anti-racist trainings incomplete and superficial? Why would we advocate for this?

We agree that short-term anti-bias trainings or workshops do nothing to address the foundational structural issues we wish to address by hiring an outside consultant. One of our faculty members worked with one such institution – the African American Policy Forum – at a different academic institution and as such has first hand experience with the type institutional restructuring offered by certain institutions. This was a months-long, iterative process in which faculty, staff and students worked together on self-study and created lasting change. 

We recognize that the deeply situated problems of structural racism on our campus extend beyond the curriculum we teach. ARC has been highlighting staff contributions to anti-racist pedagogy. Staff members in offices such as scholarship offices and financial aid are key figures in contributing to student success and they must be equipped with the resources to ensure the equitable and fair resources are accessible to ALL of our students. At one of ARC’s Town Halls in the summer, an adjunct instructor talked about the his own experience as a student and now professor in the Africana department and offered in detail accounts of the kind of discrimination and judgment he faced and certain of his students face when entering certain offices on campus. Anti-racist pedagogy requires a rethinking of what a ‘typical’ student and their potentials for success, can look like.  These structural issues can only be addressed by an outside consultant, a consultant that is independent from our own administration and as such can hold our administration accountable. 

Why has this group been hostile to the administration with their non-negotiable demands?

ARC has shared all its correspondence between the administration on their website. ARC came up with a set of six holistic demands to address structural racism on campus. We initially were told that none of our demands were implementable. We then went through and identified aspects of each demand that we determined were feasibly and immediately implementable, if the administration had the political will to implement them. We were again told that none of our demands were implementable and that the demands would not hold to legal scrutiny.  For example in response to the request for a fund for BIPOC students President Anderson affirmed that such a fund would violate anti-discrimination law. We know of many such scholarships that exist across CUNY and that the reluctance to do so expressed a lack of will more than any institutional or legal barriers. 

Doesn’t this impose on academic freedom, telling people what they can or cannot teach?

According to our guiding principles, we understand white supremacy as material, structural and upholding the status quo. When the status quo is white supremacy, we can not accept the status quo. Academic disciplines ‘discipline’ what and how we can know. We recognize that we must reevaluate academic canons for centering only certain kinds of knowledge, perspectives, and ways of knowing the world, at the expense of others. This is not about dictating what to teach, but rather engaging in a reconsideration of what it means to teach in the current moment of national reckoning with racism. As we center marginalized voices as the most impacted by structural violence, so too must we center the most marginalized voices in our disciplines to dismantle the violence constituted in white supremacist ways of knowing and acting upon, the world.  Academic freedom should not be used as cover for racist ideologies and pedagogy. 

Will signing this endanger my tenure case or my job? I don’t want an antagonist relationship with the administration.

We are stronger together. The more people that support this initiative, the greater protection we all have in the face of attempts at retaliation. We have no quarrel with the administration as individuals; instead, we are troubled by their unwillingness to recognize that the structural positions they are in and the power they hold, make them ill equipped to advance this work. 

How does this intersect with faculty governance? 

Anti-racist pedagogy and action, at its core, seeks to advance truly collaboartive decision making.  ARC is a grassroots mobilization of students, staff and faculty. We organize on the basis of working to center the voices and experience of those most affected by structural inequality. We know change does not come from the top down and that people already know how to keep themselves safe and those impacted must be at the center of the struggle for upending racist structures of domination. Together with an outside consultant who is thoroughly equipped to maneuver the complexities of this work, we aim to collaborate with the bodies of faculty governance to advance shared governance procedures, decision making, and policies.

PETITION + SCRIPT FOR ANTI-RACIST PEDAGOGY

ARC is currently focusing on our demand for anti-racist pedagogy, which affects all aspects of campus culture. We can’t solve the problem of racism on campus without addressing its systemic manifestations; we need institutional restructuring. Join us by reading, signing, and sharing our Petition for Anti-Racist Pedagogy

Our goal is to reach as many members of the Brooklyn College community as possible. We invite you to help us gain more support by having conversations with your colleagues and peers and encouraging them to sign the petition. We have created a script with talking points to get the dialogue going!

ARC DEMANDS VIDEOS

We have created videos that outline the rationale behind our six central demands, which you can find written out on the Our Demands page. If you are an educator or want to share in your workspace, here is a list of questions that you can pair with the videos for discussion. Be sure to check out the full playlist of ARC Demands Videos and Teaching Resources!

This video is the introduction to a series of educational videos created by ARC as a way to engage on the first day of classes (Wednesday, August 26th, 2020) with the greater Brooklyn College community of students, faculty and staff.

The Anti-Racist Coalition at Brooklyn College’s Student-led Town Hall on July 14th, 2020 showcases the stories and personal accounts from students who are currently attending, have graduated and plan to continue their studies at Brooklyn College. Many agree that Brooklyn College is a white-serving institution and has tokenized used ideas of diversity and inclusion to promote their own liberal agendas.

Below are some clips from several speakers at the Town Hall!

Gisely Colón López at the Student-led Town Hall on July 14th, 2020. Gisely offers contextual information regarding the ARC demands as they relate to the history of struggle against anti-Blackness, racism and white supremacy at Brooklyn College.

Onyx Clarke speaks about their experience at Brooklyn College and how they were disappointed in the overall experience they received at Brooklyn College as a Black student.

“You see us, but you don’t want to see us…” Stéfon Charlot speaks about Brooklyn College and how it is a white institution in that it lacks the resources or support for Black students. Stéfon mentions how there are no direct actions to help eradicate the disparities that Black and Brown students face. In addition, the lack of community engagement from the part of Brooklyn College with the predominantly-Black Flatbush community is strongly mentioned.

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