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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Allies against racism

After weeks of discussions, amendments and delays, the Academic Senate decisively approved the Resolution Against Systemic Racism with only one opposing vote.

During the public commentary portion of the meeting, members of Pierce College faculty voiced their frustration over the many previous postponements on taking up the resolution for a vote.

One faculty member that spoke up was sociology professor James McKeever who urged the Academic Senate to effectively build to vote on the resolution at hand.

“I’m hoping at some point today, someone will call to question to actually vote on the resolution, and that your senate can move forward and understand how difficult and how emotional this has been for those of us who are African American,” said McKeever.

Dale Fields, chairman of the physics department, cited philosopher Paulo Freire to help him verbalize more succinctly ways in which the senate members can be efficient allies of the Black community at Pierce College.

“Oppressors are those who dehumanize an oppressed by removing their agency, and for that reason the liberating action is the claiming of agency by the oppressed. Therefore, the action of an allyship is to listen, to trust and to show up for the group claiming their agency,” Fields said. “Whenever an ally does not listen, does not trust and instead tells a group how not to be oppressed, they’re denying the agency of those they claim to support. And make no mistake, that is an oppressive act; that is charity work. That is trickle down socioeconomics; that is not allyship.”  

Fields forcefully concluded his commentary and said, “the people of color at Pierce College have spoken in their agency. Today, please respect that agency and perform allyship by passing their resolution so that we can get going on the anti-racist work that is to follow.”

Another faculty member that spoke up was sociology professor Anna Bruzzese who said, “it’s really time for us to take a stand, pass this resolution and then write future resolutions if necessary to address parts that we missed or other concerns along these lines.”

As the meeting progressed, matters in the calendar and other topics were discussed such as the retirement of 11 members of the faculty, Pierce College getting a grade “C” from the Health Department because of students smoking in non-smoking zones, and the successful growth of transfer students to UCLA from 38% to 42% for the Fall 2020 semester.

The members proceeded to resume discussions on the Resolution Against Systemic Racism, and while some requested amendments to be edited or to change certain words, some called to proceed to vote for the resolution.

Christopher Lay spoke as the representative for the philosophy and the sociology departments and called to move and effectively end the debate and vote on the resolution itself.

“If we continue to debate this resolution’s fine grain details, we will miss the resolution’s vital and timely point of addressing anti-black racism,” Lay said. “Here and now, we need to ensure that the Academic Senate does not let this resolution die because of an inability to agree on those fine grain details.”

Eventually, the 44 voting members of the Academic Senate proceeded to end the debate and to formally vote to pass the anti-racism resolution.

The resolution passed, and Barbara Anderson, Academic Senate president, concluded, “thank you again all for your great patience and your support of your colleagues that worked very diligently on this resolution. And for our students, we’re going to do everything in our power to stand as faculty and support them.”

The next Academic Senate meeting will take place Nov. 23.

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