Health disparities, like racism, are difficult to discuss. As a health care professional and nursing faculty, I like to spend more time on how my students, the future nurses of America, can help. Health disparities were recently brought to light with the COVID-19 pandemic. The death rates of persons of color, particularly African Americans, were alarming. In Chicago, nearly 70% of COVID-19 deaths were Black people, although they only make up 30% of the population. In Louisiana, 70.5% of deaths have occurred amongst Black people who represent only 32.2% of the population (Yancy, 2020).
One can argue that policy making does not always lead to sustainable progress for African American students. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to reconcile the egregious, abhorrent enslavement of African Americans. Oppositely, it made racism less visible, fertilized discrimination, and stagnated African American students even more. The number of African American students entering four-year colleges and universities have mostly remained the same since 1976 (Harper, 2012).
Education is a revolutionary act of consciousness and is presumed to be the great equalizer in a civilized world. Unfortunately, most California community colleges are in a state of paralysis when it comes to confronting the issue of systemic racism. Most historically and predominately white institutions are not truly committed to the efforts of combating institutionalized racism, structural racism, anti-blackness, or establishing culturally relevant pedagogy and a student-ready college.
Curriculum Trauma (CT) is by and large an academic theory that critically examines the ways in which academic systems (i.e., curriculum) directly harm students’ ability to become independent and healthy social agents. To fully grasp CT, it is essential to define both curriculum and trauma. Curriculum in its broader sense can be defined as what students have the opportunity to learn in schools (Eisner,1994). Eisner mentions the three dimensions of curriculum; implicit, explicit, and null.
I am sharing my reply to an implicit bias post that I read on an education listserv. I am having a very difficult time right now with what’s going on in the world. As a sociologist, I do not get to separate personal from work on issues like this. My community has always been in pain, fear, and survival mode, so I don’t really know how to describe what this moment in history is right now.
One of the aspects I emphasize in Administration of Justice classes is how the personal and professional ethics of individual officers are used in the daily decisions made in the name of upholding the law and maintaining order. By creating a forum where students can consider what influences their choices and how to use their behavior to influence others, I ask students to prepare themselves by considering difficult situations before they will encounter them on the job.
The answer to transformational change lies within an individual’s ability to make a conscious effort to build a bridge between self-awareness and relationship management. -LaTonya Parker
As I dial in to the campus wide open forum on race relations, staff members begin to tell of untold horrors of encounters with racism. Relayed to them by students and personal experience, there is a pernicious undertone amongst colleagues: “Why should I care? This has nothing to do with me.” As human beings, our natural reaction to issues that do not directly affect us is to misunderstand, equivocate, or emotionally disconnect.
It is of great concern that many districts in our community college system do not take action involving inequality in the workplace. My colleagues and I are disappointed that racism and sexism continues everywhere in the world but especially in the educational sector. There have been several cases of systemic exclusion of people of color. This is one event of an injustice involving a former colleague, who was denied tenure.
Race-conscious inquiry and talking about race is uncomfortable for many because we have been socialized to avoid meaningful discussions about race, but we must persist through the discomfort. Emotions run deep and high when conversations about race emerge, but those conversations are valuable and important. Brave spaces, where the work around institutional change takes place, are needed.