Thank you for participating in the 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge! This is a significant action every individual can take to make a difference for our campus and community. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the widespread disparities experienced by Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, including ongoing systemic violence in the forms of racism and settler-colonialism. As these issues affect our students and our communities, it is vital that we all stand in solidarity with those who are directly affected by inequities and fight for justice.
We think the Challenge is one of the most powerful interventions an organization can do to build community and create an inclusive culture. While we modeled this program on those done in other areas, this one is unique to our campus and community, highlighting local issues to help us all better understand how we can take meaningful action.
Our theme for the 2022 challenge is, “Centering the Voices on the Margins.” This challenge will serve as an opportunity to reflect and engage in dialogues about the systemic racism that exists towards Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. The activities will help us explore how racial injustice and social injustice impact our communities, to connect with one another, and to identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination.
The Challenge can lead to transformative results, including
We look forward to you joining us in this commitment towards racial equity and social justice. Systemic change starts with each of us individually, and together we learn and grow.
The 21 Day Challenge will be conducted between Monday, February 14 and Thursday, March 31 2022. Each week is organized around a specific theme, and participants complete a daily challenge Monday through Wednesday. Individuals are encouraged to complete a Reflection Log to mark down the process of completing this work. All participants are invited to an optional weekly facilitated conversation on Thursdays to discuss the Challenge and lessons learned.
Although this is primarily a racial equity Challenge, we know that systems of oppression are linked, and there are many other forms of prejudice and discrimination that affect our communities. These include, but are not limited to, discrimination against people of color, Indigenous peoples, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, working-class and low-income communities, as well as people from different religious groups. All of these are detrimental to our communities and have profound impacts on communities of color. In the Challenge, you will see many of these issues addressed, in addition to the core focus on racism and racial equity.
Disclaimer: Cuesta College and partners are not responsible for content created by outside parties including external links and PDFs. The organizers have made as much effort as possible to provide accessible links and resources. All advertisements related to any video, website, or article are not endorsed by the organizers.
Acknowledgments: We want to thank YWCA of Greater Cleveland and Dayton for their materials and resources as well as Dr. Eddie Moore and Debby Irving who first started the 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge, as well as the Cuesta College 21 Day Challenge Committee who made this year’s event possible.
Before you get started, if you haven’t done so already, please fill out the pre-survey to set your intentions and share your goals for the challenge with us. We also encourage you to download your Challenge Reflection Log – a tool to ensure you are taking full advantage of what the challenge has to offer.
As we begin our journey towards equity and racial justice, we must acknowledge the existence of whiteness and white supremacy in educational spaces. It is hard to talk about racism and we must, in order to address the systemic racism, structures, and policies that continue to perpetuate systems of oppression.
In this week's challenge, you are encouraged to think about the role of whiteness work environments and classrooms and the role of campus leaders, staff, and faculty in the process of dismantling whiteness and developing an anti-racist campus culture.
Image from Bing Images
Conversations about race are uncomfortable. Being defensive when asked to discuss racism happens. We were socialized to believe that racism is simply about being good or bad but there are more layers to that. Due to such socialization, there is a discomfort that often comes with discussions about race and racism. Such discomfort may lead to hurt feelings, fear, anger, or withdrawal from the discussion or situation. Today we challenge you to sit with the discomfort through the following challenges.
Today we will discuss white privilege and how it relates to other forms of privilege.
Image by Nick Youngson on Alpha Stock Images
Due to the recent 2020 census, counties, cities, and school districts across the nation are currently undergoing a redistricting process. Redistricting is the process of drawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected.
In 2021, California saw a wave of local governments such as San Luis Obispo County and our neighboring county, Santa Barabara, take on their own redistricting process. Redistricting has the power to impact representation and election outcomes. When conducted correctly, it accurately reflects population changes and racial diversity, and it is used by legislators to equitably provide representation to local governments, state legislature, and congress.
Redistricting has the power to empower communities and allow them to elect a candidate of their choice. When done incorrectly, it can lead to Gerrymandering. In today's challenges, you will learn how redistricting and gerrymandering can lead to the dilution of the vote within communities of color and how election outcomes can lead to inequities.
Image via Bing
Racist housing policies and housing discrimination are deeply rooted in white supremacy and the history of the United States. Due to racist policies, finding a safe, stable, and affordable home continues to be a challenge for historically marginalized communities.
As you engage in today's challenge, reflect upon your experience with renting and homeownership. Think about how your identities, social, and economic status may have played a factor in the outcome.
Artwork by Ricardo Levens Morales on RLM Art Studio
When conducted correctly, it accurately reflects population changes and racial diversity, and it is used by legislators to equitably provide representation in local governments, state legislature, and congress. During today's challenge, you will learn about the impact of local redistricting processes and their effect on communities of color and marginalized groups on the Central Coast. As you read, think about how this may affect you, your neighbors, students, and the local community. Did you engage in this process? If so, what was your role? If not, how can you engage more actively?
Image by County of San Luis Obispo via Mustang News
This week we'll explore how institutions sustain and reproduce racism, including with respect to healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic, and housing. These issues, directly and indirectly, impact our students and campus community members.
This week we explore how institutional racism impacts the everyday lives of low-income and minoritized communities in healthcare, housing, and access to basic needs. The U.S. Healthcare System has faced severe backlash due to inequitable access to medical staff, services, and resources in different socioeconomic communities which also happen to be where minoritized communities live.
Yet, the pandemic has aggravated the situation and it is clear that the U.S. Healthcare System is not equal to all. Many low-income and minoritized individuals shared they had no medical benefits, could not afford care, or even get to a medical facility. If they did have access to healthcare many shared they experienced a difference in services or quality of care and resources based on the way people look at the color of their skin.
Racism in healthcare impacts individuals’ access to testing, labs, and preventative care which can save an individual's life and their family’s quality of life.
Option 1: Read "Dixon, C. (2020). The roots of racism in health care. Teen Vogue." and make note of any times where you have witnessed racism in a health care setting.
Option 2: Watch Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2020). COVID-19 disparities in the Latinx/Hispanic community. YouTube [11mins:37secs] and consider how you may be able to promote health equity in your own personal or professional life.
Article: Castro, D., Chamorro, A., Gonzalez, A., Martinez, A., and Maynard, M. (2021). Toward a more perfect union: Understanding systemic racism and resulting inequity in Latino communities." Unidos US.
Today we will explore why minoritized communities have experienced a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases across the country and the vulnerable realities they face as a consequence. Many times, minoritized individuals work in the service industry or other sectors where they are deemed “an essential” worker who must interact with others despite the health risks. While minority communities saw an increase in covid diagnosis, this then drastically shifted their realities.
Mural "Enseñanzas de la cultivación" by Alberto Miguel Vazquez
Option 1: Read Koma, W., Artiga, S., Neuman, T., Cloxton, G., Rae, M., Kates, J., and Michaud, J. (2020). Low-income and communities of color are at higher risk of serious illness if infected with coronavirus. Kaiser Family Foundation. Reflect on the various ways in which we have made decisions about how to keep ourselves safe during the pandemic. How are these decisions influenced by racial inequity?
Option 2: Listen to the recorded interview Seervai, S. (2021). “Not just a Black body”: How COVID-19 hit home for one doctor. The Dose. For alternative viewing, there is a written transcript included. As you are listening, take note of the ways in which racial structures have created unearned disadvantages for individuals of color.
Article: Azar, K. M., Shen, Z., Romanelli, R. J., Lockhart, S. H., Smits, K., Robinson, S., & Pressman, A. R. (2020). Disparities in outcomes among COVID-19 patients In a large health care system In California: Study estimates the COVID-19 infection fatality rate at the US county level. Health Affairs, 39(7), 1253-1262.
This week we explored how institutional racism impacts the everyday lives of low-income and minoritized communities in healthcare, housing, and basic needs. Previously, we discussed that those individuals that were not able to work during COVID-19 did not earn money to cover housing, medical benefits, and food. This then impacted them and their families since many people faced food insecurity and could not pay for the internet which then impacted their or their families’ education. While there was some assistance, the backlog to access social services was long if any was received. This cycle of challenges only distressed individuals and minoritized communities further, which then negatively impacted their mental and physical health. This contributes to troubles in work, education, and basic needs categories which are key determinants of health for individuals and ultimately impact life span, health, and quality of life for them and their families.
Image by Chris Carlson on Found SF
Option 1: Watch the short documentary, Restrictions Apply by RACE Matters SLO. As you are watching, consider how the continued impacts of racial covenants on racial disparities in homeownership today.
Option 2: Watch the video, Ramirez, R. (2020). “Extreme heat is worse in redlined neighborhoods.” Grist., [5mins:7secs] on the overlap between housing issues and environmental justice. In your own area, take note of the proximity between various environmental hazards and the types of housing and businesses that are available. Consider, how are patterns of injustice being maintained?
Option 3: Attend a facilitated discussion and presentation on Institutional Racism with Dr. Mario Espinoza-Kulick. This event will take place on Thursday, March 3, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PST. To join the discussion, enter our virtual Zoom room linked here.
Since Brown vs. The Board of Education, the U.S. has made racial segregation in education illegal federally. Many of us believed Nelson Mandela when he stated “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” While education is accessible to all, it has not been equitable for minoritized communities, as they do not receive the same support and resources. This week, we will focus on connecting the dots between historical and contemporary oppression when it comes to race.
Today we discuss the history of educational institutions and the fact that these were designed for cisgender, able-bodied, white men of middle to high socioeconomic status. The reality is that these institutions, despite the many cases, policies, and laws, continue to embody biased, prejudiced, and inequitable challenges for BIPOC to exist in. Despite campuses being designated as (Insert Ethnic Community) Minority Serving Institutions, students of color still report that they face racism and microaggressions while attending, engaging, and taking up space in higher education.
A sign at the DACA march. The Spanish text translates to English as "My existence is my resistance." by Rodney Dunning via Flickr
Option 1: Read the blog post “Our presence is resistance: Stories of Black women in senior-level student affairs positions at predominantly white institutions” by Roshaunda L. Breeden. Take note of the author’s perspective on race in academia. What surprised you about this blog post if anything? Does this raise any questions or ideas for action?
Option 2: Compare racial/ethnic diversity in higher education to the communities where these institutions are located. Start by selecting a campus you want to learn more about (e.g., Cuesta, your alma mater, or any other school you are curious about). Find out what city/county that school is located in. You can find the demographic information using the following links. Using College Factual, locate the school and find the racial/ethnic diversity of the student population by navigating to the Student Life tab and selecting the sub-tab Diversity. Using Census data, search for the city/county where the school is located. Review the data and ask yourself, why are certain groups underrepresented or overrepresented on campus?
Video [7mins:50secs]: Tompkins-Bigelow, J. (2021). Your name is a song. Mrs. Walters on YouTube.
While public colleges and universities have come a long way from their foundation to be inclusive to diverse students, minoritized students continue to share that they do not feel seen, acknowledged, or heard when they share their experiences of racism perpetuated by faculty, staff, students, and campus community.
Image by Cuesta College via Cuesta Newsroom
Option 1: Read the magazine article “The Weaponization of Whiteness in Schools” by Coshandra Dillard. Reflect on how you have seen emotion characterized in the classroom when it comes to conversations about race.
Option 2: Watch the video [9mins:32secs] “Campus Climate and How it Impacts the Mental Health of Students of Color” by the Center of Academic Innovation. Consider how students of color may be influenced by mental health concerns.
Today’s topic explores campus responses to racial incidents. There is plenty of research regarding appropriate models, campus-wide surveys, and campus response teams to address racial incidents that impact the campus community. While some in the community will view a racial incident as “a few bad apples,” the campus response to these incidents speaks volumes about campus climate, work culture, and the institution’s investment in equity past the politically correct and federally mandated threshold.
"Activism is Learning" by John Englart via Flickr
Option 1: Read the article “Latinos Still Face Discrimination in Schools” by Angelica Pena. Is this the first time you are learning about these events? If so, why is that the case? If not, did you learn something new this time?
Option 2: Read the article “Tyler Watkins’ Blackface: Another Mark on Cal Poly’s Timeline of Racism” by Isabel Hughes about the legacy of racism locally on Cal Poly's campus. After reading and taking notes, ask yourself: How do you consider the racial climate when providing guidance and advice to your students or peers?
Option 3: Attend a facilitated discussion about systemic oppression in education with Melina Simonds. This event will take place on Thursday, March 10, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PST. To join the discussion, enter our virtual Zoom room linked here.
[1hour:47mins] Black Lives Matter Listening Session: The Black Experience Shared by Central Coast Residents (September 29, 2020)
[1hour:43mins] A Latinx Narrative: A World Where Our Voices Count (October 26, 2020)
Article: Davis, S., & Harris, J. C. (2015). But we didn't mean it like that: A critical race analysis of campus responses to racial incidents. Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs, 2(1), 25-30.
This week we will explore the ways that Native Americans and Indigenous Identities have been systematically oppressed by the United States and given only a few options; assimilation, genocide, or federally sanctioned erasure. In spite of this context, Indigenous peoples have resisted and organized movements for decolonization and Indigenous sovereignty.
Today we will discuss the long history of the United States weaponizing the educational systems as a tool to erase Native American and Indigenous Identities.
"Donna The Strange's painting They Tried to Bury Us but Little Did They Know We Were the Seeds was inspired by the recent discovery at residential school sites across Canada. The blossoming flowers represent children who died at residential schools. (Donna The Strange; Anishinaabe)" via CBS News
Option 1: Read the blog post “America has always used schools as a weapon against Native Americans” by Katrina Boona via Education Post Blog. Reflect on your own experiences of education.
Option 2: Watch the video “How Can You Fight Racism at Your School” [13mins:39secs] and take notes. When have you seen successful examples of people acting against racism or other forms of bias?
Today’s topic is language and cultural revitalization efforts. Indigenous peoples have survived and resisted violent systems and maintained traditional practices and languages.
Image via Blogspot
Option 1: Read through the Language Revitalization page from the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini (ytt) Northern Chumash Tribe, and watch the short video embedded in the page.
Option 2: Read the brief article “Watch Mexican Indigenous Tales in their Native Languages in 68 VOICES, 68 HEARTS” by Cinema Tropical. Watch one of the stories linked in the embedded video. Consider how the language contributes to your understanding of the story.
Podcast: All My Relations Podcast has multiple episodes on topics like appropriations; identity; Hawaii; blood quantum; and boarding schools.
Today’s topic will delve into the process of “taking back” something that has always existed and did not belong to the U.S. to begin with. Despite the many systemic challenges, genocides, and obstacles; colonialism was not able to erase language, culture, and people’s relationship with their land. Yet, to be recognized as a tribe they must go through the same system that sought to erase them for federal recognition.
Image via @ActionSTL on Twitter
Option 1: Listen to the radio show “In California, Salinan Indians are trying to reclaim their culture and land” by Allison Herrera via All Things Considered about how Salinan people are working to maintain and strengthen their sovereignty.
Option 2: Explore the Chumash Heritage Federal Marine Sanctuary to learn about the effort to designate a new sanctuary between Monterey and Channel Islands Marine Sanctuaries. Watch the video embedded on the main page.
Option 3: Attend a facilitated discussion about with Tonya Leonard, Prairie Band Potawatomi. This event will take place on Thursday, March 17, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PST. To join the discussion, enter our virtual Zoom room linked here.
Book: Wunder, D., & Hu-DeHart, E. (1992). The state of Native America: Genocide, colonization, and resistance. Boston, MA: South End Press. Available in print at SLO Cuesta Library. The call number is E93 .S77 1992.
Podcast: This Land Podcast has episodes about reclaiming land, settler adoption of Indigenous children, and off-reservation boarding schools.
This week we explore how different identities and their intersections shape their lived experiences. Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw who noticed there was a gap in legal protections for Black women in the workforce. This gap was created when they sought protections but they did not fall under the umbrella, since there were women and Black men actively working in the organization, and therefore how could sexism or racism be occurring in the workplace.
Today’s topic is exploring the construct of intersectionality and the importance of understanding how multiple roles of gender, race, class, sexuality, immigration status, and more all intersect with one another.
Image by HIVE
Option 1: Watch the TEDTalk [18mins:49secs] "The Urgency of Intersectionality". Take notes on how Kimberlé Crenshaw describes intersectionality. Reflect for yourself, how does the concept of urgency relate to work for social justice and equity?
Option 2: Listen to the in-depth radio story "For LGBTQ People of Color, Discrimination Compounds" that explores intersectional discrimination from the perspective of LGBTQ people of color.
Video [4mins:23secs] : DefineAmerican (2018). Undocumented and Black in America. Youtube.
Follow @UndocuBlack on Instagram: A Network of Black immigrants organizing to create space for currently and formerly undocumented Black immigrants to not only survive but thrive.
In today’s discussion, we will explore society’s stereotypes around Black Women such as “angry,” “strong,” and “loud.” Why are “Karen’s” stereotypical attributes only applicable to the single white women who engage in this behavior but Black Women as a whole are generalized into monolithic and stereotypical tropes?
Option 1: Read the classic piece "The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism" by Audre Lorde about how women’s responses to racism are coded in terms of racial stereotypes. Take notes and reflect on how these dynamics are still present today.
Option 2: Listen to the recorded poem "How Stereotypes Make Black Girls Have to Smile to Survive" by Sabine Quetant in this article (transcript available). Listen fully and then take a moment to reflect on your thoughts and reactions to the speaker.
Today we explore how intersections of People of Colors’ experiences, including racism, sexism, and homophobia in the United States. Using Crenshaw’s intersectional lens we will explore the everyday lived experiences of young activists of color, as well as LGBTQIA+ individuals who happen to also identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color.
Image by Daniel Quasar on Kickstarter
Option 1: Attend the Ethnic Studies Teach-In! You can join the Ethnic Studies Teach-In from 1-4:30 PM on Wednesday, March 30. This is a day-long event that will bring together the campus community for a hands-on exploration of Ethnic Studies. We will cover the history of Ethnic Studies, the new graduation requirements instituted at the high school and college level, and how Ethnic Studies can have a positive impact on our community. Click here to register.
Option 2: Read the article "Julio Salgado's Art Uplifts UndocuQueer Existence and Joy". Consider how arts and culture can be used to represent experiences that have been historically excluded.
Option 3: Watch the short video [4mins:30secs] "Why some Black LGBTQIA+ folks are done ‘coming out’". Take notes and reflect on how our identities are formed in relationship to our contextual factors.
Option 4: Attend a facilitated discussion for Cesar Chavez Day with Maggie Muñoz. This event will take place on Thursday, March 31, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PST. To join the discussion, enter our virtual Zoom room linked here.
Image by United Farm Workers on Library of Congress
This week we have the opportunity to explore what “actor,” “ally,” and “accomplice” terms mean and look like in today’s society. Examining the differences of these terms through the lens of critical self-awareness, action, and commitment to dismantling systemic oppression impacting all minoritized communities.
Today’s challenge is to learn about and reflect on the different roles that people with privilege can take in support of social justice and equity, including being an actor, ally, or accomplice.
Hands in Solidarity, Hands of Freedom mural on the side of the United Electrical Workers trade union building on West Monroe Street at Ashland Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Artist Dan Manrique Arias painted this mural in 1997 on the south wall of the United Electrical Workers Union. By Terence Faircloth via Flickr.
In this discussion, we dig deeper into the key differences between an ally and a co-conspirator. Is an ally someone who can quote “woke” terms and language, but only “shows up” to be seen as an affiliate or supporter when convenient for them. What does being a co-conspirator mean? Does it make a difference between the two when it comes to continuous self-awareness, constant learning, and a firm commitment to stand with BIPOC to dismantle systems of oppression despite personal comfort?
Allyship signs, like “Be An Ally” and “White Privilege Exists,” have become standard at Trump-era protests. As the larger crowd started marching, even the person with the “Enact Bail Reform” sign was smiling. Image by Philip Cohen via Flickr.
Building on previous sessions, we will discuss what actions differentiate one from an ally to accomplice. In today’s challenge, you will learn more about how you can become an accomplice.
Image by Indigenous Action on indigenousaction.org
Option 3: Attend the facilitated discussion "Reclaiming Our Stolen Tools" with Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins, Ed.D. (DoctorJonPaul; pronouns: they/them). Dr. Higgins will discuss Audre's quote about the tools and the masters house. This event will take place on Thursday, April 7, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm PST. To join the discussion, enter our virtual Zoom room linked here.
Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins (DoctorJonPaul) is an educator, national speaker, freelance journalist, thought leader and media critic who examines the intersections of identity, gender and race in entertainment. Named Business Equality Magazine’s “Top 40 LGBTQ People Under 40”, their work has been featured on sites like Essence, Ebony, Complex, MTV NEWS, Out Magazine, BET & Paper Mag. A Culture Strike 2021 Disruptor and Twitter Spaces Spark Creator, Dr. Higgins is a trailblazer who is finishing the stories their ancestors didn’t get to tell.
Dr. Higgins is currently the Executive Assistant to Colman Domingo & Edith Entertainment and teaches Educational Justice at the University of Redlands. They have worked on several inclusion projects with top brands like Fox, the NFL, Apple, Disney, Instagram, Buzzfeed and most recently completed work on GLAAD’s 2021 HIV Stigma Report. They have also been a featured speaker for TEDx and competed on the latest season of Netflix’s hit show, “Nailed It”. A recent panelist at SXSW (South by Southwest), they are currently working with IHeartMedia via the NextUP Initiative to develop a podcast that gives voice to the Black, fat, queer experience.
They hold a doctorate in educational justice and often write and lecture about what liberation means for Black, queer, fat, non-binary people and how we can help them not just survive, but thrive.
Please take a few moments to let us know how we did
and what we can improve upon for next time.
Jannet Rios, M.S.E.
Jannet Rios is a Bilingual Academic Success Coach at Cuesta College. At Cuesta College she supports students who are pursuing a career in teaching. Through this work she seeks to center the experience of Teacher of Color and the power that teachers have to shape a student’s experience. She serves as a member of the Equity and Student Success Committee at Cuesta College. Additionally, her work supports Undocumented Students and ensuring they have access to campus resources and information. Outside of Cuesta, Jannet serves as a Steering Committee Member for the Central Coalition for Undocumented Student Success (CCC- USS), where she works to support undocumented students and raise awareness within the communities about the needs and barriers experienced by Undocumented communities on the Central Coast.
Mario Espinoza-Kulick, MA, PhD
Dr. Mario Espinoza-Kulick is part-time faculty for Ethnic Studies at Cuesta College. Mario's teaching and research focuses on Latinx and Indigenous migration, community health, queer of color and intersectional analysis, social movements, cultural productions, and decolonial methods. He draws from his experience as a Latinx, Indigenous, and Queer person of color to seek justice and opportunity for underserved communities.
Maggie Muñoz, MS, MPA
Mercedes Rutherford-Patten, MLIS (she/her/hers)
Mercedes is a part-time faculty librarian and Library/Information Technology instructor at Cuesta College and California Polytechnic State University, SLO. She grew up in a working-class family of manufacturers, homemakers, and farmers in the U.S. heartland. She is a first-generation college graduate with disciplinary knowledge in biology, chemistry, sociology, cultural anthropology, and library and information science. Her passions involve advocacy for underrepresented students in higher education--first-generation and neurodivergent, in particular--inclusive and anti-racist instructional design and pedagogy, and environmental stewardship.
We also thank our sponsors:
Equity Student Success Committee and Cuesta College Library