The Americas, and much of the global economy, was built on the enslaved labor of African bodies, Black bodies. The history of slavery is told through a narrative of progress, change, and freedom. It presumes a past and a now. But freedom has never really been free. Slavery did not disappear; instead, as Saidiya Hartman reminds us, we live in the afterlife of slavery. Anti-Black racism made it so that even after the passage of the 13th and 15th Amendments, Black individuals and communities were not free from harm. At the turn of the 19th century, Black codes denied African Americans access to equal rights of citizenship, and throughout the century anti-Black racism seeped into everyday practices that have led to disparities and marked realities for Black individuals and communities.
We must address and commit to taking action again anti-Black racism if we are to truly center the work required to grow an equitable and inclusive university community. We know that no single solution is going to work for every community; but we also know that solving for anti-Black racism gives us the best chance at recreating our systems to ensure equity for all.
Reframing the Conversation is a monthly hybrid series. Attendees can join in person at the Hinckley Institute of Politics’ Hinckley Caucus Room (GC 2018) or virtually through the live stream on the Reframing the Conversation webpage.
Tyler is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Economics Master’s Program who is committed to social justice. In addition to working towards his degree, Tyler was selected as part of the inaugural cohort for the Black Cultural Center’s Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Powered by the George Floyd Memorial Fund. In this program, Tyler has been applying his passion towards developing a research mechanism to countervail inequitable policies and institutions in higher education.
Originally from Oakland, California and having lived in NYC for over a decade, Edmund Fong joined the University of Utah in 2008. He studies racial politics and American political culture, broadly speaking. He is the author of American Exceptionalism and the Remains of Race from Routledge Press and is currently working on a book examining how Americans have used race to “tell time” across US history.
Rachel Alicia Griffin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Race and Communication and Associate Chair in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. As a critical/cultural scholar who has earned several honors, her research interests span critical race theory, Black feminist thought, sexual violence, and the social institutions of sport, media, education, and the U.S. presidency. Dr. Griffin is currently the Editor-Elect of Critical Studies in Media Communication—the discipline’s foremost journal for critical media scholarship. She has published in journals including Women’s Studies in Communication, the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, The Howard Journal of Communications, the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, and Communication, Culture, & Critique in addition to being a co-editor of Adventures in Shondaland: Identity Politics and the Power of Representation (Rutgers University Press, 2018). Exceptionally committed to sustaining synergy between research and service, Dr. Griffin has delivered well over 100 anti-sexual violence and Inclusive Excellence presentations on campuses and at conferences nationally and internationally.
Tamara N. Stevenson, Ed.D. is Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her scholarship and practice explore the internal and external rhetorical activities of educational institutions as organizational sites of power through a critical race lens. A first-generation college student from Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Stevenson holds doctoral and specialist degrees in educational leadership, and a community college leadership certificate from Eastern Michigan University, a master’s degree in organizational communication, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University. She worked in corporate communication in the metropolitan Detroit area for over a decade, including print and broadcast journalism, automotive, health care, and K-12/higher education. Dr. Stevenson is the first African American hired into Westminster’s communication program, the first to earn multi-year faculty contracts, and the first to advance in academic rank to associate professor.
Aja Washington is a Black feminist social worker who grew up in Southern California. She has been a community co-host on KRCL’s RadioACTive and works on various activism projects in Salt Lake City. Aja holds a degree in Television, Film, and Media Studies focused on using media as a tool to liberate, explore, and critique our society.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion strives to contribute to an ecosystem of learning by hosting annual and monthly events aiming to educate all its participants on varying aspects of experience and identity. Reframing the Conversation brings together experts from across campus and the community to spark important conversations around racism, othering, and safety.
While continuing to identify and remove barriers and bias incidents targeting our campus community, persistent strides towards an institution where every member is given the opportunity to be educated on equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts will remain at the forefront of our work.