Supporting Black Students
This blog is written by two of our Center’s students, Jada Curry and Metyia Phillips.Jada is one of our Engage San Francisco Literacy tutors, and works with our community partner, the New Community Leadership Foundation. Additionally, Jada is our 2021 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow: an honor given to community-committed students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers. Metyia Phillips is one of our McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento and is headed off to USF in D.C. this fall. She was also a member of our inaugural cohort of this summer’s Equity Interns, a partnership with the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute and the YMCA of San Francisco.
Throughout the last year, we have heard the cries of “Black Lives Matter” and have seen the plight of Blacks expressed and advocated for on an international scale. As Black people who have grown up in America, it is a known fact that everyone is not appreciative of our existence. Being that USF is a predominately white institution, we as Black students expect a level of comfort on campus, seeing how we learn, live and work there. This basic “ask” of comfortability at a place we pay to attend was abruptly uprooted after a noose was found hanging at the Loyola Village student residence. Due to this situation, the Black Student Union released a list of demands. Also, it brought attention to a professor at USF who was also engaging in racist acts and making Black students uncomfortable. As a result of all the negative things affecting the Black community, we have decided to list some ways in which the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good can support the Black community on campus and make themselves a visible ally and foster safe spaces.
- Create spaces around Black solidarity and learning. The best way to show support for students, faculty, and staff is to have spaces centered around learning, solidarity, and support. Spaces intentionally crafted to allow us to connect and keep our community strong is necessary for our growth.
- Incorporate anti-racist teachings into all aspects of the LTMC’s programs for students. We are both participants in various programs with the LTMC, and we have to attend and participate in anti-racist teachings and programming with the center. However, we would like to see it featured within all aspects of the center.
- More Black representation. We would like to see more people that look like us within the center. People such as Senior Director Derick Brown and Engage San Francisco Literacy Coordinator Dresden Smith have changed our lives. We would like to see more lives changed and leadership opportunities for us to thrive.
- Training centered around anti-racism and anti-Blackness for faculty and staff. Faculty and staff must continue to do training around DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), microaggressions and biases. We believe a training specifically centered around anti-racism and anti-Blackness that many of us face will bring attention to various acts that go unnoticed and are unintentional but still result in adverse effects for the Black community on campus.
- An attitude of growth and learning continuously. Rome was not built in a day. Being an effective ally and having a commitment to anti-racism does not happen overnight, but a commitment to growth and learning is the building block to being both. Reading is a great way to get started and some of our favorites include, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
These are just a few practices that we believe, if implemented, would help The Leo. T McCarthy Center better supports Black students, faculty, and staff on campus while making themselves a better and visible ally. Our thoughts and suggestions on the matter do not represent the thoughts and suggestions of Black students or the Black community at USF, but we do believe that the steps outlined above would positively impact us all. Asking us to write this blog was the first step in the LTMC commitment to anti-racism and support for the Black community. We appreciate the opportunity to give our input on an issue as important as this and hope you consider the suggestions we listed on supporting the Black community at USF. Thank you.
— Metyia Phillips and Jada Curry
Thank you Jada and Metyia for taking the time to make thoughtful suggestions on how to make the McCarthy Center more responsive to the needs of Black students on campus. We will take your suggestions to heart in expanding our existing efforts and creating new ones.
While we remain committed to the actions spelled out in our earlier blog post this summer, we hope you will recognize that our long-term commitment to anti-racism is ongoing and dynamic. Thank you for helping us affirm our practice and commitment to support for the Black community.
— Leo T. McCarthy Center