“I applaud the leadership of these community colleges that you are putting these sometimes difficult conversations at the center of your transformation and strategic planning for the future.” – Gail Christopher.
Recognized nationally for her leadership for social justice, Dr. Christopher urged faculty and staff of Virginia’s Community Colleges to join the effort to heal centuries of racial injustice during the second part of the Chancellor’s Series “Razing our Monuments: Race to Equity.”
Initially available Sept. 16, a recording of the program is still available (see link below.)
Christopher argues major steps are required if Americans are to overcome a long history of racial hierarchy that is so entrenched in our culture that many people don’t even recognize it.
She urges the creation of a Truth, Racial Heating and Transformation Commission to identify and remedy damaging underpinnings of American society.
“We must in fact have the courage to face the truth of our past,” said Christopher. “We have to face the truths of our present, and to use that insight to build and transform the country so that our future truly does reflect the potential that is espoused in our founding documents.”
Legislative and policy changes, no matter how well-intended, would not achieve their goal if Americans fail to gain a more honest understanding of history, she argued.
“We suffer from a hardened and false understanding of humanity,” said Christopher. “An absurd notion comes to us from the 17th century, and it still lives in our collective and individual consciousness, that some people, based on their physical characteristics, should be valued more than others.”
“And it is my contention that our work, particularly in the world of academia, is to acknowledge the fallacy of that belief system, its pervasiveness, and jettison that belief system.”
Responding to a VCCS faculty question, Christopher recommended the following resources to gain a better and deeper understanding of the current state of the nation:
• Stamped From the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
• Slavery by Another Name, by Douglas Blackmon
• The Warmth of Other Suns, and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, both by Isabel Wilkerson
• And “Americans All,” a collection of materials from the People of America Foundation
To view Dr. Christopher’s entire Sept. 16 program, click here.
To learn more about Dr. Christopher, click here.
To learn more about the first part of the Chancellor’s Series, a panel discussion by VCCS college presidents first available August 13, click here.