University of Illinois

2020 Impact Report
College of Education

Addressing Anti-Black Racism and the Rise of Global Protests: Is It Different This Time?

by Ashley Lawrence

Top Row: James Anderson, Christopher Span, Rochelle Gutiérrez. Bottom Row: Adrienne Dixson, Rodney Hopson, William Trent Top Row: James Anderson, Christopher Span, Rochelle Gutiérrez. Bottom Row: Adrienne Dixson, Rodney Hopson, William Trent

Nationally-recognized thought leaders in social justice, equality, and the study of systemic racism shared their perspectives in a recent Virtual Town Hall Meeting.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death and protests and demonstrations around the globe, graduate students within the College of Education voiced a desire to acknowledge the unrest with a community-wide conversation. Students alerted leadership to concerns about mental, emotional, and physical health—amidst a pandemic already disproportionately impacting people of color—and a need for moving the dialogue forward in meaningful, actionable, immediate ways.

Where do we go from here? How do we move beyond the statements provided in this moment to the structural changes needed? How do we leverage the heightened awareness, energy, and fervor around racially-motivated inequity and injustice for lasting change?

“Many Education faculty and students have been committed to research—for a very long time—in areas of social justice, equality, and the examination of systemic racism inside and outside of education,” said James D. Anderson, College of Education Dean. “This is a great time to reflect on the work that we do and recommit ourselves to doing the kind of work to answer these important questions.”

Organized and moderated by Yoon Pak, Department Head of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership (EPOL), the virtual Town Hall Meeting was held via Zoom the afternoon of June 18, 2020. The meeting opened with a talk and challenge from Dean Anderson.

“Whether within the university or state agencies, we need to be engaged in research activities that inform about and provide interventions for systemic racism,” Anderson said. “We will know that society is seriously interested in ending systemic and institutionalized racism when they begin to support the kinds of research that will bring about change.”

Roundtable Discussion Topics

“We have to work on doing the scholarship that produces the insights and the understanding that help us not harm ourselves by internalizing any of this poison, as people of color. And work on preventing the expansion of and continued embedding of negative master narratives in our schools, in our literature, and in our workplaces,” said Trent.

View the Virtual Town Hall on the College’s YouTube channel.