The recent tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others have highlighted the systemic racism that exists toward Black people and other communities of color. As we stand in solidarity with those fighting for justice, we invite you to engage in the 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge as a significant action every individual can take to make a difference. 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.
Have you ever made a successful change in your life? Perhaps you wanted to exercise more, eat less, or change jobs? Think about the time and attention you dedicated to the process. A lot, right? Change is hard. Creating effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of power, privilege and leadership is like any lifestyle change. Setting our intentions and adjusting what we spend our time doing is essential. It's all about building new habits. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. The good news is, there's an abundance of resources just waiting to empower you to be a more effective player in the quest for justice.
The Challenge can lead to transformative results, including:
• Building new, positive habits that can change ourselves, our teams, our organizations and our communities
• Taking small actions alongside one another to create momentum and a sense of teamwork
• Creating a profound, elevating experience to increase the likelihood that participants will take action
• Participating in meaningful conversations about racism and social justice
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. Welcome to the 21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge!
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.
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.
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.
For many people, systemic racism is not something we are used to talking about. The events of this past summer have brought systemic racism into the public conversation - often with confusing and emotional results. We’re starting off this challenge with a brief primer on some of the basic facts. We encourage you to refer to the Aspen Institute’s structural racism glossary for key terms and definitions that will come up in the challenge.
As with all of the elements of this challenge, these activities just scratch the surface of the issues. Systemic racism has been intricately woven into the very being of our national political, economic, and social structures for hundreds of years. A few videos and articles are not going to make any of us experts or solve this complex problem. What we do hope is that each week you will be inspired to seek more information, make connections locally, and establish a commitment to act in your way to build a more inclusive community. How each one of us does this will be individual, but each of us can contribute to building a better future.
We want to thank YWCA of Greater Cleveland for their materials and resources as well as Dr. Eddie Moore and Debby Irving who first started the 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge.
“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it,” writes professor Ibram X. Kendi. Watch this short video (2mins 5sec) about the difference between being non-racist and anti-racist.
It is hard to talk about racism without talking about whiteness and white supremacy. Today’s activities give you some background on whiteness and how it has been perpetuated in structures throughout our history.
This day also includes our first set of reflection questions for the week as well as a suggested action. We encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the things you’ve explored and talk to a friend, co-worker, or family member about something you’ve learned.
Support your local student and community groups advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today’s action is to follow one or more of these local groups through instagram, facebook, or twitter and/or sign up to get their regular newsletters/updates. This will ensure you are aware of the everyday amazing work happening in your local area.
This week, we look at the history of voter suppression and how Black, Indigenous and people of color were systemically kept from the ballot box, as well as the challenges they had to overcome in order to exercise their right to vote. We’ll explore the complicated path to white women earning the right to vote in 1920 with Black and Indigenous women left to wait another 40+ years. Finally, we’ll consider the impact of local elections and consider how we vote today.
Today is Indigenous People's Day! Check out why more places are abandoning Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day.
JUST DO IT! Before you go further, if you are a U.S. citizen, make sure you are registered to vote! This is your Constitutional right and it is easy to do. Did you know you need to re-register if you have moved, changed party affiliation or changed your name? Are you wondering if you ever remembered to register? It takes just a few minutes to take care of this. Go to: http://registertovote.ca.gov/. In California, you can even register on election day, but don’t wait!
Today’s activities cover some of the key issues in barriers to voting that Americans have faced over the years. While some of the following focus on specific identity groups, every one of us should be vigilant, because someday it could be our identity group that is disenfranchised.
White American women won the right to vote nationally August 14, 1920. This year we marked the centennial of that event. We often romanticize this movement as a gathering of women seeking representation. It was a long-term, often violent battle, and significant groups of women were left behind in order to make the movement more palatable to white male lawmakers who would have to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Black and Indigenous women did not earn the right to vote until the 1960s. For a history of voting rights in America, check out this timeline.
Indigenous suffragist Zitkala-Sa. National Museum of American History
All politics is local. You may have heard this saying and brushed it off, but it really is true - your vote has its biggest impact right in your own neighborhood. In 2014, the Pismo Beach mayoral race was decided by 2 votes! In 2020, all registered voters in California will receive a ballot in the mail and have the option of returning it by mail, dropping it off at a ballot collection site, such as the County Clerk Recorder’s office or bringing it to a polling station anywhere in California to vote in person.
As we end the second week of the challenge, we encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the things you’ve explored and talk to a friend, co-worker, or family member about something you’ve learned.
This week we'll learn about cultural appropriation, the controversy around statues, and ways we can make informed decisions about everything from costumes and theme parties to hair styles and sports teams.
Images depicting everything from team mascots to halloween costumes have long legacies of racist and derogatory meaning, perpetuating stereotypes and appropriating important and sacred cultural symbols from Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Cultural appropriation is a remnant of the settler-colonial practice of taking everything from land, to artifacts, to language, clothing, food, and the people themselves and mis-using and mis-representing them in the service of trying to denigrate or erase the original. This practice contributes to real physical and psychological damage to the people it targets and is even more insidious because it pretends to be harmless. It is in fact quite harmful.
Often we think about cultural appropriation in connection with material goods or how we fashion our appearance, but such ‘common’ imagery can be damaging. Similarly, ordinary statues that are intended to be celebratory can cause great pain as well.
All My Relations: A Podcast delving into topics facing Native peoples today
Cultural appropriation targets people of all underrepresented identities. Whether via a Halloween costume, chant at a sports event, or trendy fashion item. We encourage you to explore as many of the following options as possible to learn about this topic from a variety of perspectives.
You might recall some of the conversations around the California missions and statues being removed this past summer. In San Luis Obispo, the Chumash people have been demanding for decades that the statue of Father Junipero Serra be removed, as it is a daily reminder of the forced conversion, land appropriation, and enslavement their ancestors were subjected to by the mission system.
Removal of Junipero Serra Statue
We start today by honoring and acknowledging the earliest residents and caretakers of our local area, the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini (ytt) a tribe of indigenous Northern Chumash people from the San Luis Obispo County region.
Today's challenge is to be more thoughtful about our language, and how some common terms are actually tools of appropriation. Terms like ‘pow wow’ or phrases like ‘America is the land of immigrants’ for example, should be examined. Taking action is something you can do right away. Check out today’s options to learn more about how to be part of the solution.
We all experience policing differently. However, many individual experiences of people of color, especially Black and Brown people, have consistently and excessively been affected by violence from law enforcement. Studies (data) show racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in prison and jail populations, relative to their numbers in the general population. In the past ten years, increased use of social media to document police violence against Black bodies, and organizing efforts driven by Black women (such as Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw with #SayHerName, or Alicia Graza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors with #BlackLivesMatter), have highlighted the violent impact of racial bias within law enforcement.
This week's ideas and language have largely been derived from the Dayton, Ohio YMCA and we reference their programming in the design of this week's challenges.
“The message after 50 years is still unresolved,” remarks Samuel Egerton, who donated the poster to the Smithsonian after carrying it in protest during the 1963 March on Washington
(Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, gift of Samuel Y. Edgerton)
To better understand the role of the police and their impact on the lives of people of color, we must understand how and why the police were created and how we are equipping police officers to enforce the law. Learning more about the history of the police, an institution, will help us better understand the present-day relationship between the police and communities of color.
Photo credit: Bruce Emmerling
Welcome to Day 11 of the Challenge, we've reached the halfway point!
According to US Census data, San Luis Obispo County is 68.5% white, so the relationship between policing and our citizens may look different than the history covered in Day 10. Research shows (report) that disparities for Black and Hispanic populations are found at earlier stages of the criminal justice process, beginning with investigatory stops and arrests by the police. As we are seeing in the movements of this summer, increased use of social media to document incidents—and organizing efforts driven by Black women—have highlighted the impact that these biases have on communities of color, driving a national movement for action that protects Black lives. Today we will learn about the injurious effects of bias and over-policing on vulnerable populations.
During this time of tragedy, anger and upheaval following the death of George Floyd, many in our community are seeking ways to advance social justice and racial equity, and protest police brutality. Do you know your rights during police and ICE interactions, and your rights during protests? Let us begin by reading this blog post from the founder of the 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge, Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr.’s selection of resources to inspire and remind us “whose shoulders we stand on and whose sacrifices we are honoring as we continue to educate and activate to demand a more just and humane world.”
It is well-established that minoritized groups in the U.S. experience more illness, worse outcomes, and premature death compared with white populations. What is not talked about as often, is the legacy of racism and discrimination and ongoing issues with bias that perpetuate racial disparities in health outcomes, both physically and mentally. This week we will explore that history and look at how bias continues to show up in our contemporary health care system.
This week's ideas and language have largely been derived from the Dayton, Ohio YMCA and we reference their programming in the design of this week's challenges.
The history of the exploitation and abuse of people of color by doctors and others in the medical field is one of America’s most tragic and largely untold stories. Thanks to the work of Black female scholars like Harriet Washington, author of Medical Apartheid, there is a new willingness to grapple with the impact of this trauma. Knowing our past is the first step towards a more equitable future.
Stories from Black women describing the discrepancies of medical care
Before we start today’s challenges, we encourage all those who can, please VOTE!
‘I Will Not Stand Silent’ 10 Asian Americans Reflect on Racism During the Pandemic and the Need for Equality
Photograph by Haruka Sakaguchi for TIME June 25, 2020
In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties COVID-19 cases have disproportionately impacted the Latinx community. There are many explanations for this, including the fact that many essential workers come from this community, but even more likely are the obstacles they face when accessing health care. Before selecting your daily challenge to unpack these disparities, learn about the impact of COVID-19 by race around the country here.
Clearly, what we mean by ‘healthcare’ and even ‘being healthy’ varies, with race being a powerful factor. People of color and all marginalized communities experience life differently from those whose lives have not been devalued. They experience overt racism and bigotry far too often, which leads to a mental health burden that is deeper than what others may face. Research has linked racism to psychological distress, physical health problems, depression, anxiety, and trauma. The internalization of bias and oppression causes tremendous distress to minds, bodies, and spirits.
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." This quote by Nelson Mandela, and shared by Eddie Moore Jr., founder of the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge Educator Edition, reminds us, as educators, that we bear a great responsibility. Often we think of education as only about classrooms, tests, and checking off boxes, but education encompasses so much more. Systemic racism is embedded in our educational systems, from what is taught in K-12 to who has authority on a university campus. As voters and legislators continuously cut funding for public education, it is even more important to understand the disparities of who, what, and how education is taught. This week we explore decisions in curriculum, pedagogy; disparities in education, and what Central Coast educators are doing to be more inclusive in the classroom.
In the 1960s, “Progressive Education” theories began to expand the pedagogy (how to teach) of K-12 schools to include ‘Americanization’ beyond just arithmetic and reading. Such decisions reflect how important it is to understand who makes decisions about the curriculum and pedagogy. Differences in state and local policies result in a great deal of variation in the content, ranging from celebrating violent and colonizing Missions in California, to romanticizing the plantations run by enslaved persons in Louisiana, to dismissing much of the world in ‘World History.’ After K-12, many disciplines in higher education hold strong Eurocentric or falsely ‘neutral’ viewpoints. Today’s activities show just how inconsistent, contradictory, and biased the lessons we teach can be.
The ‘Achievement Gap’: the difference in academic achievement between white, Black, Indigeneous, and people of color students. The preferred term is ‘Opportunity Gap’, which identifies the source of the disparities: lack of access to equitable resources. These resources include not only material items, but also the methods and modes of pedagogy, access to opportunities, and structural faith in ‘success.’ Often, disparities can be exacerbated in higher education because higher education has become so privatized. Now, during the pandemic, such inequalities have been amplified by the dependence on inequitable surveillance tech, and the loss of in-person communities.
Approximately 80% of K-12 teachers and professors in higher education are white. Yet only 48% of K-12 students are white. Studies definitively show that students do better with same-race teachers, and that one of the reasons our Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students experience less success than their white peers is due to the fact that white teachers are not properly prepared to teach students with lived experiences different from their own.
There is a lot we can do to improve the way our students are taught. We can recruit and support more teachers of color. We can be critical consumers of education and question the common narrative of settler colonial, Eurocentric teaching that often paints BIPOC students using a deficit lens or erases their contributions altogether.
After eighteen days of this challenge, we come to the final week! Now what? What do we do next with all this information? The idea of something new, perfect, and resolved is false and we must recognize this struggle continues, and anti-racism work is never done. Instead, perhaps the question is, how can we help? People have been organizing, protesting, reimagining, and working towards a more equitable world for centuries, and we can continue learning to understand how we can practice and prioritize anti-racism in all aspects of our lives.
In the wake of George Floyd's murder, protests have erupted around the world, spreading over 2,000 cities and towns in over 60 countries with an estimated 15 million to 26 million people showing up in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement - a movement founded in 2013 by three Black women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. The impact of these protests, organizing, and educating is evident through an amplified focus on anti-racism across our society.
“Reparations is fundamentally a recognition that whole groups of people have been affected by policies and therefore are deserving of some form of economic or material compensation for the harm they and their ancestors have endured.” Reparations can take shape in a multitude of forms: not only can institutions implement systems of redress for injustices, but individuals can pay reparations as well. Today’s Challenge shares reparation efforts and mutual aid organizing. Learn about the definition of mutual aid through “Mutual Aid as Reparations: How we can all practice justice with the undocumented immigrant community in West Michigan.”
Juneteenth Reparations Rally, June 19, 2020 (Flickr/Fibonnaci Blue)
Other Examples of Local Action:
Congratulations — you’ve completed the Fall 2020 Cuesta Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge! Thank you to our community partners, our dedicated staff, and YOU for your continuous engagement. We are so impressed by the community’s response to this Challenge, but even more impressed by our community’s desire to invoke real change.
In addition to adopting new habits which empower you to confront issues of racial equity and social justice, we hope you continue to research and reflect upon all of these issues and more. If you have not read or interacted with each piece of content from this year’s challenge, now is a great time to go back and engage, find additional content to share with friends and family, and keep the conversation going. Social justice is not a performative action - it is a practice. Please consider the Challenge as a starting point to your continual commitment to learn, grow, and act towards fighting racism, injustice, and white supremacy. On behalf of the Cuesta College Equity and Student Success Committee, thank you for participating!
Please take a few moments to let us know how we did
and what we can improve upon for next time
We acknowledge the resources, topics, language, and format of this challenge were selected carefully by the 2020 21-Day Challenge Team:
Que Dang, she/her/hers
Working as the Director of Student Equity, Que is part of a collective team advocating for racial and social justice at Cuesta College. Her experience as a Vietnamese refugee, mother, and first generation college student fuels her commitment to raising the voices of Black, Indigeneous, and communities of color.
Rosemary Wrenn, she/her/hers
Rosemary Wrenn is part-time faculty at both Cuesta and Cal Poly in Teacher Education, College Success Studies, Distance Education and Children’s Literature. She participates in equity work at both schools and is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in social justice. The focus of her research is Critical Race Theory and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy as it relates to teacher preparation and professional development.
jaime ding, she/her/hers
Trained in interdisciplinary histories of objects, specifically trash and its relation to whiteness, jaime ding works at the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly and teaches in the Ethnic Studies department. An east asian american settler guest on the lands of yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini, jaime loves trash very much, wants to value that which is not valued, and follows and frames her work with Black feminist scholarship. http://polypublishing.calpoly.edu/
Catherine Trujillo, she/her/hers
Working in Robert E. Kennedy Library's Creative Works department, Catherine uses a Xicanisma and BIPoC feminist lens as a way to enact radical change. She does this work with collaborators and colleagues to name, question and intervene in racism within the arts, academia, and communities. Her work focuses on creating long-standing contributions to the cultural life of the community, with a commitment for the preservation and dissemination of underrepresented voices in history and art. https://lib.calpoly.edu/events-and-exhibits/exhibits/creative-works/
Jenna Severson, she/her/hers
Libraries remind Jenna that there are good things in this world. Jenna is a part time librarian and faculty member at Cuesta College. She has spent much of her career writing grants and designing programs that enable libraries to make meaningful connections with underserved populations like migrant and seasonal farm workers of the Salinas Valley, veterans, and disadvantaged students.
We also thank our additional supporters:
Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts - Dr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti
San Luis Coastal Unified School District - Rick Mayfield
NAACP- SLO Chapter - Cheryl Vines