Discussions for change: Moving forward in fighting injustice

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a monthly series provided by the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations, an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Active engagement in conversations around social justice, diversity and inclusion happens regularly at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) through a variety of events open to faculty, staff and students.

Because the college operated mostly online since March 2020, these events continued virtually, helping the campus community keep connected during the pandemic. Creating spaces to educate one another and share experiences provided an important outlet for engagement and critical thinking. After the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, these dialogues became even more essential.

‘Enough Is Enough’ teach-in

The college responded with the Enough Is Enough: Privilege and Injustice in 2020 teach-in series, largely facilitated by Erica Harrison, the college’s director of special events and community relations. Each teach-in session focused on a specific topic, all with the same goal: to bring the community together and provide support during a time of anger, fear and disbelief. The college needed to take action and continue critical conversations about racism and social inequities.

An online ad for one of the Enough is Enough events hosted by the Community College of Philadelphia.

Guest panelists contributing to these sessions included state representatives, local advocates, doctors, lawyers, city officials and faculty and staff. The first discussion in June was about police reform. The college’s Marc David LGBTQ Center lead a discussion about violence against the transgender community and shared ways to educate others and create change while faced with these horrifying statistics: 2020 was one of the deadliest years on record for transgender and nonbinary people, and trans women of color, especially Black trans women, experience disproportionate levels of violence and comprise the majority of trans murder victims.

A panel about allyship addressed how to be an ally to the Black community and take part in the solution to end racism and intolerance. CCP’s virtual solidarity walk, in honor of Floyd, brought attention to this issue as campus members walked in their neighborhoods.

Enough Is Enough addressed issues surrounding the safety of air and water in urban communities and how to assist small, Black-owned businesses during the pandemic. The college’s latest Enough Is Enough event featured the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium and a discussion of facts and myths about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Other resources, opportunities

Each session has attracted large numbers of the college community, and some sessions were open to the public. Gatherings especially for students were held after some of the teach-ins, with professionals in attendance to help them process feelings of trauma, sadness and confusion.

Individuals from around the college have assembled dozens of resources for further education, including movies, books, volunteer organizations and businesses who need support, podcasts and a glossary of terms. The college community is also invited to share their plan of action.

Enough Is Enough will continue, as will all efforts to combat hatred and fear, support equality, and affirm the fact that Black lives matter.

About the Author

Donald “Guy” Generals
is president of Community College of Philadelphia. He is also the 2021 recipient of NCMPR’s Pacesetter of the Year Award, which honors a community college CEO who demonstrates special leadership and support in college communication and marketing.