Recent events have given us pause to reflect on ways in which we can be more educated about, and work to combat, systemic discrimination in our communities both here at this university and in our society as a whole. It gives us a chance to not only appreciate the diversity and inclusivity that is essential for our culture of rich learning, but also affirm that many of our fellow colleagues and students face disadvantages and challenges as a direct result of their race or identities, especially for those identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). It also allows us to recognize that, while these social inequalities have been brought into sharp focus due to the tragic killing of George Floyd, systemic racism and police brutality towards the BIPOC community have been occurring, often without justice, for generations. We are reminded, particularly on this day, Juneteenth, how society and state have often failed to uphold the values of diversity, inclusivity, and equality.
We at AeroGSAC reject intolerance and oppression in all of its forms and denounce the perpetration and facilitation of the injustices that minority communities in our nation have endured for so long. As members of our diverse community we understand the responsibility we share in ending these glaring inequities in our society. These responsibilities start with self-education on the persecution faced by BIPOC communities throughout history and how discriminatory practices and policies of the past have left deep and pervasive scars on our present. These responsibilities continue with actions that not only demonstrate our support for those targeted by systemic racism and violence, but effect change towards ensuring a future where such tragedies and inequities are no longer a part of our day-to-day reality.
We encourage our fellow students and academics to join in on these efforts to effect necessary change. To that end, we would like to forward some links that have been shared to us by concerned fellow students and friends that we hope you will find as helpful as we have.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links below contain information/pages about donations for their respective organizations or causes. If you want to donate, that is your choice, however, we at AeroGSAC encourage you to make sure that you check whether donations are limited to US citizens or permanent residents/that if you make a donation you are not violating any terms of your immigration status. We provide these links as ways to learn more about the organizations and movement themselves rather than to solicit donations for these organizations.
“Race and Cultural Diversity in American Life and History” – a free online course offered by UofI https://www.coursera.org/learn/race-cultural-diversity-american-life
College of Education Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series https://education.illinois.edu/about/leadership/dean’s-distinguished-lecture-series/past-lectures
Site for UofI’s Anti-Racism Task Force, with many links for educating, Black Healing, and action resources https://idea.illinois.edu/education
“Black Lives Matter Home Page” https://blacklivesmatter.com/
“Black Lives Matter: Chicago” https://www.blacklivesmatterchicago.com/
“Minnesota Freedom Fund” – Links to support youth-led movements at their epicenter https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/
If you are a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who feels that you have experienced discrimination here due to race, gender, or ethnicity, we would like to provide this link to the Office of Access & Equity page (https://oae.illinois.edu/discrimination-and-harrassment-prevention.html) which covers the university’s non-discrimination policy and provides information about how to submit a claim.
If you are a student (or another person in academia) who wishes to learn more about being an ally to communities of color, both within the university and in society as a whole, we would like to provide these articles for you to read that go over some ways to be an effective ally.
If you are looking for resources about the movement to confront systemic racism within academia, we would like to direct you to the website that organized the one day #shutdownstem general strike. This website has resources for anyone in academia looking to confront this issue on their resources page (https://www.shutdownstem.com/resources), and can also help one begin the journey of learning about how to confront racism in STEM/academia, and provides resources for people looking to learn more about race in general and its impact in academia and in larger society.
We at AeroGSAC regard this message and the resources linked with the utmost importance and believe they reflect our values as responsible and ethical participants in our diverse and socially conscious community. We emphasize our support for students of color, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to making our department one in which you feel safe and welcome. We sincerely appreciate your time in reading this message and hope in earnest that we can come together to become a part of the solution. As always, feedback from our community is greatly valued, and we will always be open to suggestions on how we may better serve our community and fellow students