Bringing It

Bringing It #59: Stopping Hate, Spreading Hope, and Listening

March 31, 2021

Dear friends,

It is impossible not to feel pulled apart by the contradictions of this moment: pulled toward relief and cautious hope by the availability of vaccines; pulled back to grief at the murder of George Floyd by the start of the Chauvin trial; pulled into horror by the recent shootings in Atlanta, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado, and the twenty other mass shootings that have taken place in the U.S. over the past two weeks.

Stop Asian Hate

Every life lost is precious, but we want to dwell a moment on the Atlanta spa murders. Whatever the psychology of the shooter, the killings only add to a climate of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and of misogyny against Asian American women in particular. As many voices in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have insisted, this toxic mix of racist and sexist abuse has long been endemic in the U.S., but it has grown more horrific with the pandemic. Even today—as we finalize this letter—New York City has seen two additional street and subway attacks. We are committed to supporting the calls of our Asian American and Pacific Islander sisters and brothers to Stop Asian Hate.

This is a moment not only for solidarity, but also reflection and learning. We are grateful for the work of our colleague Jack Tchen (one of the project leaders of BT2P’s PLACE Collaboratory), a leading public scholar of anti-Asian racism. Jack is the author of Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear and this week took part in an important teach-in on anti-Asian racism organized by Florida International University. We also want to lift up this statement in response to the Atlanta spa murders by our friends at Tufts’ Institute for Democracy and Higher Education. It offers a thoughtful analysis and important resources about anti-Asian racism, violence against women, mass shootings, and the links between gun violence and mental health. We offer thanks for both of these guides.

Kudos to Pitzer College’s Vaccination Policy

By contrast, it is a joy to give kudos to Pitzer College for an item of welcome news, courtesy of BT2P board member and friend Tessa Hicks Peterson:

“Pitzer recently became a vaccination site and has been able to provide vaccine doses to teachers and staff at the college. Based on encouragement from community engagement scholars and teachers, the school expanded its definition of educators to include those in the community who assume the role as “co-educator” for our students. Our students’ education is immeasurably impacted by the education (as well as mentorship and vocational inspiration) they receive from our community partners. These partnerships are key to the social responsibility praxis, social justice theory and intercultural understanding learning objectives of our college. Without our community volunteers, none of this would be possible. Within just a few days of the launch, Pitzer provided vaccine access to 30 community partner organization staff and community members. We hope this makes a small dent in the larger work of ensuring equitable access to vaccines to our most valuable, and oftentimes most vulnerable, community partners.believe that this grant will allow us to expand access to education and career opportunities for an underserved community, refugees and immigrants. Our project will connect public and private colleges, K-12 institutions, and nonprofits in a coalition to work alongside refugees and immigrants to co-create opportunities for marginalized students to navigate their own paths towards long-term success. We are honored to be part of this community-led work, and grateful for the opportunity to learn alongside colleagues near and far.

It is wonderful that Pitzer’s decision was based not simply on a generic commitment to service but in recognition of community partners’ role as co-educators. Brava to Tessa and Pitzer. And bravo to our hosts at Elon, who are opening their vaccination outreach to community partners.  Perhaps your institutions can do the same?

What we’re reading: Higher Education’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

The pandemic is global in its reach. So is the movement for publicly-engaged higher education—and it has just issued an important new volume on how the academy has and should respond to Covid-19. Published by the Council of Europe, Higher Education’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic reflects the work of International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy, a network of public scholars and educational leaders from across the planet. The contributors discuss the immediate response to Covid-19 by academic institutions and systems from many nations, and—perhaps more important—they explore the opportunity and the imperative for democratic higher education opened by the pandemic. It’s an important window on the global potential of the movement for civic engagement and democratic learning in an era of crisis.

What You’re Missing If You Haven’t Listened

The Way Forward podcast is now two weeks old. In the first two episodes we speak with some of the most charismatic leaders in higher ed: President Freeman Hrabowski of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Chancellor Nancy Cantor of Rutgers University-Newark. My discussion with Nancy Cantor, released just this week, explores her vision of transforming academic institutions “from the outside in,” centering community voices and community needs in everything from admissions to research. It’s a stirring conversation. Have a listen.

And keep on listening. The first season of The Way Forward: Higher Education in a Time of Crisis will release new episodes every Monday morning for the next five weeks. You can stream or subscribe for free through Apple StoreAudibleSpotify, and Stitcher. If there’s something you’d love to hear more about or a guest you’d like to suggest, please reach out to us at [email protected].

Thank you for staying in touch, for contributing to our work, and for all the work you do.

David, Kelly, Todd, and Kate