August 9, 2020
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The Women’s Resource Center held an online “Social Justice 101” teach-in to help educate students on how to be an ally in the fight against systemic racism.

By: Brenda Fernanda Verano, News Editor

Over the past 55 years since its establishment, California State University, Dominguez Hills has been committed to its educational mission to “provide education, scholarship and service that are, by design, accessible and transformative.” 

A variety of CSUDH student affinity groups and centers are devoted to offering these transformative services to students and alumni, even as their campus locations remain closed and as cities across the country continue to call for transformative justice and an end to systemic racism against Black people and other people of color.

The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is one of those centers that continue to offer their services to students. On Wednesday the WRC hosted a “Social Justice 101” teach-in, where their mission was to bring students together to converse and learn more about  the movements happening around the world, all through a social justice lens.

This teach-in aimed to cover concepts like the prison industrial complex, reform versus abolition practices, black lives matter and anti-racism, as well as providing a space to answer any questions that students had regarding any of these topics.

“Today we want [students] to feel comfortable asking questions rather than not [socially] engaging at all because you’re afraid to make a mistake” said WRC director, Megan Tagle Adams.

Adams explained how often people who are trying to learn more about current social movements ask, ”what should I do?” or, “how can I help?”  These questions usually end up putting more demands to educate the rest of society onto the limited time and energy of black people, particularly black women. 

“We want to make sure that undoing racism and white supremacy doesn’t solely lie on the feet of black people,” Adams said.  “It is everyone’s job to combat systemic racism, in ways that still centers and honors the voices of black people.” 

Tania Jimenez, a CSUDH political science alumni, shared that she decided to join the WRC teach-in because she wanted to learn more about these systems of oppression that feed off of white supremacy and capitalism. Jimenez explained how she’s encountered analysis paralysis. “Yet there is still lots to learn, there’s still changes that can be made,” Jimenez said. 

The WRC coordinator, Alyeska Gutierrez, who earned her bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) said that dismantling the oppressive systems is a life-long process. 

“We have been ingrained in the system since birth, through the media, through our family and then we got to school and we are indoctrinated there,” Gutierrez said.  “It becomes really difficult to get to a point where [students] are able to decolonize [their] mind, and for some people, they don’t get to do that until they get  to college because that’s when folks have options to take Ethnic Studies classes, or have radical professors that can dictate what material they are teaching.” 

The workshop touched on what allies and students can do individually to stand in solidarity with black folks and actively dismantle racism, capitalism and white supremacy.  Some things that were included in the presentation were checking oneself and the privileges and unconscious bias that one might hold, centering stories and voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), being of service (offerings ones time, resources or monetary donations), being vigilant behind closed doors and in front of folks, and lastly educating oneself (reading, taking classes, watching webinars). 

“A lot of this work starts within yourself,” said Gutierrez.

CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham sent out a similar email on May 29, following the death of George Floyd. The email addressed to the campus community acknowledged the university’s social justice roots dating back to the 1965 Watts uprising that brought to light the long standing inequities and injustices of the Watts community. “Let us commit to use this tragedy as the impetus to become better versions of ourselves, and find a way as a Toro Nation to impact this country and a world that is sorely in need of transformation.”

If you are an ally and/or want to learn more, the Women’s Resource Center suggests the following:

Educational Books:

“ASSATA” by  Assata Shakur, “The Wretched of the Earth” by Fratz Fanon, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo, “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Educational Movies: 

“13th”, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, “Crip Camp”, “Occupation 101”

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