Episode 2 Angela Davis
6:46PM Nov 2, 2020
Hello, hello, hello beautiful listeners. This podcast is coming out on the morning of November 3, which is election day. So the first thing I want to say is vote. Make your voice heard by showing up at the voting booth if you haven't already.
Library updates today are that we have a new database. It's called Artstor and you can find a ton of high quality images of famous and not so famous art to use for your projects and PowerPoints. And, because I know many people have a hard time remembering how to cite images, the database generates the citation for you. Huzzah!
Did I just say huzzah?
We also have new tech available for checkout, webcams, microphone headsets and a digital camera are now available to you. If you want to check one out, just call or email us to make an appointment. Today's interview is with Angela Davis from the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion. She kindly agreed to talk to me about the process of writing the new Durham Tech Equity Diversity and Inclusivity action plan. If you'd like to read the plan for yourself I've put a link in the show notes. Angela Davis has been a friend to the library for years and I really enjoyed speaking with her. She is knowledgeable and passionate and keep listening to learn about what Durham Tech is doing to become antiracist.
Hello, Angela Davis, how are you today?
I am doing wonderful, Courtney. It's so good to see you.
It is really nice to see you. I miss you coming through the library.
Yes, I miss you all too, I gotta hopefully I'll be able to bring some sweet treats through the library again one day soon. So it'll be nice to be back on campus,
I would not be mad about it. The way to my heart is through my stomach. That is 100% the case.
That's me, too. I'm all on it.
So the first sentence of the action plan is: "As organizations around the country issue statements in support of social justice, Durham Tech, spoke first with our student representatives, our community and our employees." So, this all happened over the summer, when this was developed. So we were shut down North Carolina was shut down. Nobody was talking to each other because or we were all talking virtually nobody was on campus. How did you reach out to people to get input? And who were you actually able to get responses from?
That's a great question. Because to your point, everyone was just trying to navigate through this whole COVID-19 and figure out, you know, what was next right? So the beauty of it is that we immediately as a college, started using Microsoft Teams, and we were able, of course to communicate remotely in that way and post meetings and all of that good stuff. But the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion first began by developing a draft statement based off of our Equity Plan for the college and initiatives that we had already been working on through the equity and inclusion Council, we began sending that information to our constituents, right and our stakeholders on campus.
First, of course, we met with JB Buxton, President Buxton to have his input and to get his thoughts and of course to you know, engage him in that process. Then we met with our leadership council, which is represented by about 40 plus individuals across the college campus. And so we were able to engage stakeholders in that way and get their input. We met with our Student Government Association and allowed them to have an opportunity to read the statement of action and to gain their support and receive their input as well. And then our last stop was our Board of Trustees for the college and we met with our Board of Trustees during one of our regularly scheduled trustee meetings, the trustees had an opportunity to review our statement of action, and then of course, chime in and give their thoughts. And after we received the information from them and their input, we were ready to publish the statement on August 31st, 2020.
That's awesome. So you actually, despite the circumstances, you were actually able to get responses from quite a large number of people.
We were and I will tell you, Courtney, people were excited to be able to participate in that process, because it really was an equity statement of action. There were so many other institutions that were rushing to just get a statement out there, right? But we didn't want it just to be a statement. We really wanted this to be a plan of action. And we wanted to make sure that when we released this statement of action, that it highlighted what we were doing but what we were also committed to do moving forward as an institution.
Awesome. The action plan was published on August 31st. And it includes a whole list of things under the heading, Our Progress, and the things sound very impressive. But now it's November 3rd. So are there more things that can be added to that Our Progress list that have happened since then?
Absolutely. And so, you know, as we talked about in the statement, you know, this was a very bold statement of action. But what we realize in this work is that it really is a journey. It's not a sprint. And so our statements that you'll see in the committed to section, these are things that we have been committed to ongoing, you know, and especially for the past two years, we are focused on everything that you see in that statement from things that we've already accomplished, to things that we are committed to. So this work is ongoing, I will tell you that some of the focus areas right now have been really dedicated to looking at the teaching and learning experience for our students. And so we are working very closely with our campus community to see how we can integrate equity and inclusion into the instructional experience and into instructional design at Durham Tech.
So right now that that is a big focus for us, not only for all of instruction, but we have been working diligently with our basic law enforcement training program to integrate equity and inclusion into the instructional design process for our RB le t programs, as well as public safety. And so we are really committed to that effort. And we are focused on that right now, as we continue to move through what we are committed to, and it's going to require that we continue to look at data and that we evaluate our progress. So that's something that is in the works. You know, like I said, we've been committed to all of the things that you see in the statement, but that's in the works right now, in addition to that facilitating those transparent conversations with our students, through Real Talk Sessions is very important. And with our faculty and staff, our Student Government Association, as I'm sure you've seen, recently, has launched the let's talk series. And we're really excited about that, because that engages not only students on campus, but also our community at large.
I love the flyer that they just developed for the let's talk about it, because it was a flyer that showed microaggressions. And they were able to sort of demonstrate some of the microaggressions that they have experienced during their lifetime. And so that was a very powerful statement. And that's the first session that they will be, you know, sort of engaging in is a conversation about systemic racism, and to be able to sort of express themselves in that way was pretty powerful. So we're excited about that as well.
That seems like a really great initiative.
Yes, it is. Yes, it is. It really is. Really excited about it.
So will the action plan be evaluated on an ongoing and regular basis? Or is this a one time sort of thing that you're going to put out?
Yes, the action plan is something that is evaluated on a regular basis. A lot of the information that you see in the action plan that was released by the college is also information that is included in our Equity Plan for the college. So the equity and inclusion Council, which is made up of stakeholders from across the campus community, including students we have to students that serve on that council will continue to lead the charge in ensuring that we communicate with our college and that we are adhering to the things that we you know, set out to do and that we have stated that we are committed to and of course president Buxton is completely committed to the equity work of the college and creating a culture of equity mindedness. And so this will be something that we not only look at annually, but we look at this monthly. In fact, Courtney, we're really looking at this daily, we stay on top of everything that's taking place as it relates to this equity action plan. So yeah, it will definitely be something that will be reviewed, and will be massaged. And I'm sure that you know, as we continue through this journey of creating a culture of equity mindedness at the college and serving our students in a more equitable way, we're going to make changes as we go along as well. And those changes will be for the betterment of our students.
Yeah, a lot of times when you start something you don't know what you don't know, or what needs to be done yet. You've been working on this a long time. So you probably do know a lot of what needs to be done, but there always seems to be more things that you discover in the process.
Absolutely. Absolutely. There's always more things that we discover and you know This worked, we're four years into this type of work. And we were one of the first colleges in the state of North Carolina to have a position like this and to have a department like this, right now, we're really the only college that operates the way that we do, or community college, I should say, that operates the way that we do having a position like this and having a department that reports directly to the President. And so we know, we definitely are showing our commitment to ensuring that our students, you know, and especially our Black and Brown students, that we are intentional about the efforts that we are, you know, putting in place to ensure their success. And so we are committed to the work,
How did it affect you, as someone who lives and breathes antiracist work in your career, and as someone with both Black and Indigenous heritage, to work on this action plan and see it published?
Yes, it was, it was a surreal moment for me. You know, you've you've heard me say this often, but I have been engaged in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work for most of my life, since I was 14 years old, you know, having the opportunity to present and facilitate training sessions, reflective practice sessions, as it relates to this work across North Carolina, and they all across the country, so to see this come to fruition was, it was just surreal. It was a long time coming. I do live this and breathe this every day, to your point 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I often say that if there was an invisible weight that you could see on my back, right or on the backs of African American, Black or Indigenous folks that are just walking around the weight that we carry is very heavy. And if you could actually see it, I'm sure that folks would probably wonder how in the world are we still standing, but we are still standing. And we're still here.
And so it was very encouraging, not just the publishing of the statement, but to see folks committed to the statement to see the culture of the college starting to shift to see people examining their hearts, because this is heart work. You know, first and foremost, this is self work, you know, the work of reflection is the responsibility of the individual. And so to have folks really engaged in their own personal self reflection, and to see them reframing some of the ways that they have done things, some of the decisions that they have made to see people examining their lived experiences, and having that change of heart to say, wait a minute, I need to rethink this thing. I can't continue to do things the same way that's really empowering. And it's exciting to see that come to fruition at Durham Tech. And I'm just excited to see what's to come. Because I believe that we are on this, you know, on this ride, and it's not going to stop. I think that that we're in it for the long haul based on the commitment of stakeholders at the college. And so it's exciting. It's an exciting time.
It is exciting. And you're completely right, that all change has to start with yourself first.
And that can be really the scariest part.
Yes, it is Courtney, it can be very scary. And you know, that's why we really try to make sure that we provide resources and opportunities for people to learn more about themselves continue to engage in this self work, and this truly transformative change, because that's really what it takes in order to change a culture. And so it is definitely scary. We know that change is difficult. But what we are also seeing is that through reflection, we are truly becoming more comfortable with the uncomfortable. And that's that's progress.
It takes practice, takes habit, and positive reinforcement.
How confident are you that Durham Tech will follow through on the action plan going into the future?
Yes, I'm confident, I'm confident that we will continue to follow through with this action plan. We have some phenomenal people at Durham Tech that have shown up through this process and just been so focused on making sure that they are holding up to this commitment. And of course, we've got you know, a board of trustees, our foundation board, so many others that are leading the charge and not only leading the charge in the self work, but making sure that we have the resources and the financial resources to continue to push this work.
You know, we've got the equity and inclusion plan. And then we have the equity and inclusion fund, right. And so in order to push this vision for where we have to have the resources to be able to do it.
And the other piece that is so important is that we are constantly assessing and reassessing ourselves and I think that's something that is necessary in order to see this work move in the direction that it needs to move. We are engaged in that reassessment process asking for help as we're working with Aspen right now we're working with Achieving the Dream, we're working with With the Belk Center at North Carolina State University.
who is Aspen?
The Aspen Institute is an organization that works in higher education. And you know, if you see any of the work that the Aspen Institute has done in the past, it has definitely been focused on equity, it has been focused on completion and looking for ways to push that agenda in community colleges and higher education like and so working with those organizations achieving the dream, of course, we've been Achieving the Dream leader college since really the inception of achieving the dream, but working with these organizations that are dedicated to looking at opportunities to improve the success rates of our students, and especially students of color in our higher education system, looking at ways to dismantle systemic racism, looking at ways to incorporate, you know, sort of an a self examination, if you will, institutionally versus trying to fix the student. And so working with these organizations who understand the importance of the systemic aspects that impact student success, and are really more equity minded than deficit minded and approach, and so makes it exciting to be able to work with institutions, and organizations like this, as they, you know, continue to work with us, help us assess our progress in this work, but also to help us with our strategic planning process by providing this assessment was so that we can truly look at the capacity to do this work on a larger level.
And that's one of the reasons that I'm so excited about this work continuing at Durham Tech, you know, we are in the in the planning stage of our new strategic plan. And we know that equity is the foundation for that, and specifically racial equity. So you know, this is something that I believe will continue for decades to come
As it should.
So of course, I'm going to ask you, What are you reading? Or what was the last book you read? And what did you think about it?
Yes. And so the book that I am currently reading, and then I'm engaged in right now is Black Fatigue by Mary Francis Winters. Mary Francis Winters is the co founder and president of the Winters Group. And that's located in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are a diversity, equity and inclusion firm.
This is a phenomenal read, it talks about how racism erodes the mind, body, and spirit. And I will tell you that it is my story. You know, I've read this, and I'm almost at the end, but just immediately could relate to the stories and the truth that she shares through lived experiences, you know, she really goes deep into the root of black fatigue. And she describes the enduring, negative impact, if you will, of systemic racism on people of color, and not just systemic racism in its definition, but really looking at its impact on health, its impact on workforce, its impact on economics, its impact on education, and the other social outcomes for black people. And so not only does she offer strategies black people can use to sort of protect themselves from black fatigue, but she also offers strategies for how non black people can begin to actively dismantle these racist systems that cause it. And so I think that's what's really important about black fatigue. And as Mary says, that's the 'what you need to know' about it. And I just, I'm really excited about the opportunity to read it.
I've shared some tears. But I've also, you know, been excited about what I'm reading, because it's definitely helpful. And it's something that I think people can wrap their hands around, and they can actually put it into action. I definitely recommend black fatigue, Mary Francis winters, great, great read.
I love a nonfiction book that isn't just a downer and actually has action items for you to move forward, especially when you're talking about such systemic issues that seem overwhelming when you try to think about how to fix them.
It's it's sort of a compilation of different concepts, frameworks, ideas that we're hearing, there's a lot of a lot of the readings that Durham Tech has participated in some of the authors, you know, she mentions in Black Fatigue as well. Very-- it's well done, it's timely, it's relevant just came out about a month and a half ago. So it's it's definitely relevant. It's in time. It's a read that I would recommend to everyone of, you know, all ages. I mean, it's a simple read, and it's powerful and impactful, and it moves you know, it's not one of those books where you get caught up on a chapter you're like, I wish this would be over. It's one of those reads that once you get into the chapter, you're excited about getting to the end, and then once you get to the end, you're like I need to read this next chapter and see what's happening here. She's got some really unique titles for chapters that completely pull you in as a reader. But it's just really great to hear it from her perspective, because each chapter is based on her lived experience, but her lived experience is my lived experience and the lived experience of so many African American and Black people in America. So I definitely recommend it. It's a must have Courtney.
I'll make sure it's on the library's list to buy.
Yes, please do.
Thank you so much for talking with me today.
Thank you, Courtney. I'm just excited to be a part of the new podcast. And you know, and I'm excited for what's to come. So thanks for inviting me. And hopefully, I'll get a chance to come back and talk about some more stuff soon.
I'm sure we'll have you back on because this work is ongoing. The library intends to be working with you. Well, that sounded awkward and weird. Hopefully, you know what I meant.
I know exactly what you mean you all the family and it's just exciting to be able to do this work with you all my first office was in the library and so I'm just excited to continue to do this work with you all and miss you all and hope to see you all again real soon.
We miss you too. We miss everybody. It's like a ghost town on campus, right?
Is Is it really is. It really is.
So if you're listening out there, we miss you. We can't wait for you to come back.
Yes, come visit the library.
Thank you so much for listening today. We all have a part to play in the antiracist efforts at Durham Tech and you dear listener also have your part to play so if you are interested in resources to help you on your antiracist journey, the library is chock full of them. Give us a chat and email a call and we can hook you up with some really great material. If you like the podcast, make sure you hit subscribe so you don't miss the next one. Talk to you later.