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Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft (@ZanetaMarie) is a social justice scholar and practitioner with over 10 years experience in the field of higher education administration and campus cultural centers. Her day-to-day work consists of cultivating individual, collective, and institutional change to improve sense of belonging, recruitment, retention, and success of historically underrepresented students, faculty, staff, community members, and alumni. She also plays a mean ukulele.
An Amy Cooper Higher Ed Self-Reflective Checklist
- Have you ever accused a Black colleague of being aggressive or intimidating when they are passionate about doing what’s right?
- Have you ever “picked the brain” of a Black colleague but then went on to take credit for an idea or initiative without acknowledging the partnership?
- Have you ever served on a search committee and centered your critique of BIPOC candidates on “fit?”
- Have you ever served on a search committee that did not include a single Black candidate in the pool and honestly tell yourself they were just none out there, rather than reexamine how you wrote the posting, where it was posted, or the lack of employee support networks on your campus?
- Have you ever realized that the higher your organization goes in seniority, diversity becomes less and less existent? Have you ever voiced this concern to those in said leadership hierarchies, or have you only left this to your Black colleagues?
- Have you ever been on a committee or project planning team and not had a single Black person on the team? Perhaps even worse, have you only ever had tokenized Black individuals on your project teams? Perhaps even more worse, is it always the same tokenized Black person asked to serve on special teams because there are so few on the entire staff?
- Have you ever been challenged on your behavior or given critical feedback by a Black colleague and only gotten defensive/focused on your intent instead of changing your behavior? Do you not even realize the risk that Black colleague took to bring the impact of your behavior to your attention?
- Have you ever expected your Black colleagues, and only your Black and BIPOC colleagues to “handle diversity” as opposed to realizing equity work belongs to all of us?
- Have you ever been completely silent during a moment of injustice or bias in a work context and forced your Black colleagues to be the only ones to take risk by calling out the discriminatory behavior?
- Have you ever labeled yourself a champion of “diversity” in front of your students, while actively undermining the tenure process, authority, or work of your Black colleagues?
- Have you ever used theoretical intersectionality as a way to not have to center and confront racism?
- Have you ever centered your own need to be seen as an advocate by others over the actual lifting up of your Black colleagues’ needs, labor, and voices?
- Have you ever asked your Black colleagues to explain, in detail, why people are so upset about a national happening instead of at least starting with some of your own self education?
- Have you ever continued on your day, during national tragedies, without even asking your Black colleagues how they are coping, feeling, or if they need any support?
- Do you only worry about the state of wellbeing of your Black colleagues and students during intense national tragedy as opposed to when you are writing grants, choosing whose scholarship to highlight in your curriculum, or whom your fundraising efforts support?
…you may be your Black colleagues’ Amy Cooper.
I share this list in full snark AND in all seriousness, and hope that it is used for actual changed behavior. For many, it is easier to show righteous condemnation against systematic and state-sanctioned violence than to realize our own daily complicity in the destruction of Black lives. And I do mean destruction. In the past few days, an incredible twitter conversation blessed our timelines which I think aligns strongly with item seven on this list. #BlackintheIvory, started by the incredible @DrShardeDavis and @SmileItsJoy, is full of gifts that your Black colleagues and students have taken a risk to share. Read them. Believe them. Thank them. Amplify them. Intervene. Do better.
I leave you with one more question, and it is one that is painfully important:
- Do you even have Black colleagues? Does the answer ignite a fire inside you?
Rochelle Rojas Nielsen says
I remember clearly a recent-graudate in my field asking if my friend, who had multiple interviews at our discipline’s annual conference, was Black. And then attributing her success to her melanin levels. I hope this young woman evolves past her racism. And I hold in my heart her Black and brown students who may be harmed by her prejudice.
Concerned citizen says
This is disgusting and should be removed. You are condoning violence against women. Christian cooper threatened Amy cooper and refused her numerous polite requests to be lefty alone. Because of articles like this she lives in hiding receiving thousands of death threats. For what? Trying to protect herself from an aggressive stranger who made a threat that any woman in an isolated park would be terrified of. And if all that isn’t bad enough she is autistic. So you are creating hatred towards woman because of race and disability. You should not be allowed to teach or education anyone when you are filled with this type of hate.
Karen Kelsky says
I am approving this comment (which is optional–i have the choice to delete and ban you) in order to demonstrate how it proves the accuracy of the original post. White people are a consistent threat to BIPOC people, and when confronted, react with denial, deflection, blame, and rhetorical or literal violence. Comments like this, beyond actions like those by Amy Cooper, are why white women cannot be trusted. I devote my work in The Professor Is In to making visible the violences of whiteness in academia and elsewhere.