Black Lives Matter Voices and Resources at JWU

Last Friday, JWU Providence Campus President Marie Bernardo-Sousa, LP.D. '92, held the first of a series of virtual town halls to address the historic groundswell of protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Titled “Black Lives Matter: A discussion to acknowledge the current state, explore the intersection of inequality and setting the example for moving social justice forward,” the event brought together administration, faculty, staff and student voices to start this crucial on-campus dialogue. “As an institution, we are committed to listen, learn and to implement lasting change. While the path to change will be long, it begins with us now,” noted Bernardo-Sousa.

While more virtual town halls and other events are currently in the planning stages, there’s a wealth of on-campus resources and information available to anyone who would like to become involved. Start by educating yourself on racial inequality, injustice, and systemic racism. If you are comfortable attending the virtual town halls, take part by listening and sharing your experiences. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, that’s ok, too — find your own way of engaging with what can be emotional or difficult material to grapple with.

“As an institution, we are committed to listen, learn and to implement lasting change.”

We have asked a number of JWU stakeholders to share their perspectives and, where applicable, links to resources they feel can enrich the conversation.

Kayla-Jasmine Imbrah ’20, Graphic Design major and president of the Black Student Alliance (BSA):  Black Lives Matter is an incredibly important issue for JWU students, because it is important for students to understand why black people and people of color march. Black Lives Matter is more than just an organization against police brutality. Police brutality is just the tip of an iceberg. We have to say we matter, because systemically we do not. We are on the path to change, but it is important for students to know what is going on and stay informed. It is time to have those difficult conversations about race that make us uncomfortable.

Say Their Names InfographicIt is important for students to utilize JWU resources such as going to town halls, counseling services and events on campus organized by other black students. This helps students become part of an even bigger conversation. A town hall allows room for a constructive dialogue between the students and the staff. Stories like [those of] George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and so many more weigh on us in different ways. JWU’s Counseling Services provides the opportunity for students to take care of their mental health during these heartbreaking times.

My personal hope … is for every single student to feel seen, heard and safe. As a black student on campus it is one thing to be told you’re included, but for each student to feel it as well is so important.

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Dameian Slocum, associate dean for Student Services:
I think what we can do collectively to make our students of color feel seen and heard is to make it clear in no uncertain terms — they matter to us. Their lives matter. Their experiences matter.

We have to use whatever mechanisms we have individually and collectively to demonstrate that our diversity is vital to our Wildcat family. We have to be willing to stand beside them, advocate on their behalf when needed, and learn from them.

JWU Providence Library Services
Reference & Instruction Services Librarian Sarah Campbell and Reference Librarian Jennifer Castel have created a comprehensive LibGuide with links to Black Lives Matter and anti-racism resources, including print books, films, and articles that can all be accessed for free by the JWU community. Campbell emphasizes that this Guide is a work in progress, and the plan is to keep it updated as more materials become available. Here is the Library’s statement about the Guide:

“JWU Library stands with Black Lives Matter in denouncing systemic racism and working to address oppression. We are committed to centering voices and stories that have been historically silenced. Representation matters. Stories matter. Intersectionality matters. Reading and listening to marginalized voices is crucial in building an actively anti-racist society. Take a step to dismantle oppression by centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as they call out for change. This reading list is a living document and will be updated regularly; to suggest a book or join our Virtual Book Club to discuss ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander, contact Sarah Campbell Scampbell@jwu.edu or Jenny Castel jcastel@jwu.edu.”

Explore the LibGuide

Stephanie Dixon, director of JWU Providence Counseling Services:
We believe it is critically important for our students to be seen and to be heard during this time. Counseling Services will continue to be a safe and affirming place for students to be seen, to be heard, and to be supported. We are committed to supporting our students and working to effect change in our campus community and beyond.

Students are dealing with so much uncertainty right now along with a tremendous amount of emotion and feelings like anger, pain, fear, grief, sadness, to name only a few. If students feel isolated and are having difficulties coping we would strongly encourage them to reach out for support.

JWU North Miami Counseling Services:
Counseling Services is united with the rest of Johnson & Wales University in expressing our grief, sadness, and compassion to all those individuals and communities impacted by these tragedies. These tragedies reflect a continued and deep-rooted history of systemic injustice that is pervasive and destructive. Counseling Services is committed to being an ally to these communities and to help address these injustices. While these tragedies can be traumatizing for all, we recognize that they may be especially harmful to members of our Black, African-American, and People of Color communities. In the aftermath of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, it’s common to experience a range of different emotions from sadness, anger, grief, shock, fear, and helplessness.

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