We recognize that for far too long, schooling, as an institution, has promoted values that function as overt and covert forms of anti-Blackness, racism, antisemitism, paternalism, misogyny, and white supremacy. We assert our disgust with the historical murder of the Black community, and continued violence at the hands of police. We, in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies at the University of South Carolina, reaffirm our commitment to undoing this harm, in our leadership mission to uphold the values of anti-racism, equity, and social justice.
The Student Personnel Association (SPA) President and other SPA leaders in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program declared in a statement that, “In our community and across the country, we demand justice for the death of George Floyd.” We want our students’ call to action to be the impetus for systemic change here at our institution, and all across the country, so that we may never forget George Floyd, Emmett Till, Breonna Taylor, Malice Wayne Green, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others no longer with us because of white supremacy and violence.
As many of the faculty shared personally and on social media, “We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Quoting Tamika Mallory, national co-chair of the 2016 Women’s March, “We are in a state of emergency. Black people are dying (through state-sponsored murder) in a state of emergency.”
Sadly, these sentiments have echoed for centuries in the wake of emancipation from slavery, through the unfulfilled promises of the Reconstruction Era, and the Civil Rights era. The arguments of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967 are still relevant today. As examples from our own department faculty members’ and students’ recent work:
Spencer Platt shared the following personal and poignant statement on Facebook:
"In graduate school, my favorite professor at the University of Texas, Dr. Gregory Vincent often said, “People of good will are often reluctant to call something a problem because they understand that to call it a problem gives them a moral obligation to do something about it.” I still find that to be one of the most powerful statements I have ever heard spoken because it places the onus on each of us to fight back against injustice whether it is happening to you personally or not. We have a lot going on in this country that is highly problematic and there is a profound need for people of goodwill call it out and to do something about it."
In her recent article in the Medium, “Stop Blaming Us for your Affair: Riots & the Culture of Silence in America,” Toby Jenkins called for a re-structuring of police basic training and partnering with colleges of education across the country for race-based professional development programs for officers.
USC Student Personnel Association has established an anti-racist book program, delivering books to those wanting to learn about the concept of anti-racism.
When sharing the outcomes of the recent national APIDA community conversation that she helped convene, Christina Yao expressed the necessity to “hold each other and others in the APIDA community accountable for continuing to fight anti-Blackness beyond this one event.”
We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and the Black community who persevere through the reality of oppression on a daily basis. We stand in solidarity with the families of countless Black women, men, persons, and children needlessly murdered. To our educational community, we in the Department of Leadership and Policies at the University of South Carolina say Enough!
As part of our pledge of solidarity, we recognize white privilege and silence contributes to the horrific racial inequities and we commit to fostering growth of our critical consciousness so that we cease to be complicit in the persecution of the Black community.
In our view, the indifference of color-blindness is ineffective in supporting anti-racism and ameliorating white supremacy. Education must stand as an institution of anti-racist action, grounded in the recognition that no one is free and equal until the violence and discrimination perpetrated on the Black community is dismantled. Leadership matters, and we seek to prepare leaders who are committed to anti-racist education, social justice, and action.
We will work with our students in the continued struggle for civil rights, racial equality, and social justice. To begin, we will examine our program curricula to ensure an emphasis on anti-racist education for leaders at all levels. Further, we will strive to build a critical consciousness about racial inequity, white privilege, and white supremacy among our students and partners, as well as within ourselves. Members of our department marched in the local, “I Can’t Breathe” Rally in Columbia. Others are working with local activist organizations to convene lawyers who will represent protestors pro-bono. Beyond critical consciousness and course materials, we commit to social justice action and change. Join us.
Educational Leadership and Policies
College of Education
University of South Carolina
Rose M. Ylimaki, Professor and Department Chair
Christian K. Anderson, Associate Professor
Susan Bon, Professor
Katie Cunningham, Assistant Professor
Baron Davis, Superintendent, Richland School District Two, College of Education Superintendent-in-Residence
Emily San Jose Davis, Administrative Coordinator
Amber Fallucca, Interim Director, Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning and Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan (Affiliate Faculty)
Dan Friedman, Executive Director, University 101 Programs (Affiliate Faculty )
Simone Gause, Research Associate
Jesulon Gibbs-Brown, (Affiliate Faculty)
Suzy Hardie, Clinical Assistant Professor
Toby S. Jenkins, Associate Professor
Kirsten Kennedy, Associate VP for Student Housing and Wellbeing (Affiliate Faculty)
Jennifer Keup, Exec. Director, National Center for The First Year Experience and Students in Transition (Affiliate Faculty)
Davíd G. Martínez, Assistant Professor
Diane M. Monrad, Director, South Carolina Educational Policy Center and Research Associate Professor
Peter Moyi, Associate Professor
Spencer Platt, Associate Professor
Akil Ross, NASSP Principal of the Year (Affiliate Faculty)
Doyle Stevick, Associate Professor
Henry Tran, Associate Professor
Christina Yao, Assistant Professor
Dallin Young, Asst. Dir. for Research, National Center for The First Year Experience and Students in Transition Affiliate Faculty