Dear Mendocino College Community,
Our country is facing very challenging events. While we weather the COVID-19 storm, I am saddened and worried about the even larger and historical challenges we are being reminded of this week. The events of the past two weeks, including the racist killing of George Floyd, remind us of the perseverance of racism. Perhaps, for some of us, it could be easy to feel distant from the rest of the country’s strife in our relatively peaceful rural counties. However, our own local social fabric is woven by its own historical and structural racism.
This reality, and the reality our country is being challenged to face today, should strengthen our resolve to stay engaged in equity work. Mendocino College remains committed to work hard against racism (overt and structural) and toward social justice. While the work that faculty, staff and managers have done is significant, we will need to continue those efforts under our new reality of providing mostly remote education for the foreseeable future. We must acknowledge that our classrooms and hallways (whether literal or virtual) are full of future law enforcement, health care providers, teachers, and many other public servant positions. We can make a difference by infusing equity, anti-racism, empathy, and care into our curriculum, our services and each of our interactions with students. I am committed to fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive culture at Mendocino College.
It's difficult to know how to say the right thing, but staying silent is not a viable option any longer. Among the actions we can all take to stand against racism:
- Reach out to friends, family, colleagues, and fellow community members who are Black and people of color to ask how you can best support them. Listen without judgement.
- For those of us who are not people of color, recognize that inherent bias runs deep, and we are each responsible for identifying and overcoming our inherent biases.
- Challenge bias and racism; if you see something, say something. Be a voice against racism, one conversation at a time — whether that is with your friends, your family members, your co-workers, or our community.
Some of the actions we plan to take as an institution include:
- A system wide review of first responder training and curriculum.
- Hosting open dialog and addressing campus climate.
- Auditing classroom climate and creating an action plan to create inclusive classrooms and anti-racism curriculum.
- Reviewing and updating the college equity plan.
Engaging in the California Community Colleges Vision Resource Center “Community Colleges for Change” (https://visionresourcecenter.cccco.edu/).
In closing, we must be true to our college mission. As a post-secondary institution serving a diverse community, we are committed to helping educate individuals in underserved communities. Our commitment is one we must continue to reinforce, for this work is not something that will be completed in the short term. It will take a collective effort and a true institutional dedication to ensure that we do our part in eliminating racism wherever we see it.