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Racial Justice Challenge

Welcome to the Racial Justice Challenge.

This week is intended to provide a supportive space to learn, share information, and take action toward racial justice. We're glad you are joining us on this journey. Some things to consider:

  • Working toward racial justice is hard, important work. You may feel joy, excitement, and a sense of purpose. However, you may also experience pain, anger, shame, confusion, or denial about ways in which your lives affect, and are affected by, racial inequity. Let's try to spend this week sitting with any discomfort we feel and moving forward with our antiracist practice. 
  • We all will make mistakes - it's inevitable. But, let's commit to learning from our mistakes, and to continue this work with care and accountability.
  • Given the subject matter of this program, you may feel upset or overwhelmed. For example, you may notice that you or someone you know has been contributing to racial inequity (whether consciously or unconsciously), or you may realize that your participation in this program is a painful reliving of experiences you have had with racism. Wherever possible, we encourage you to listen to Layla Saad who, in her book Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, states: "You have to decide what is going to be the anchor that keeps you committed to this work, whether it is a commitment to antioppression and the dignity of BIPOC, your commitment to your own healing, your commitment to being a better friend or family member to BIPOC, or your commitment to your own personal or spiritual values" (p. 20). When you're feeling upset or overwhelmed, consider why it is so hard, and what your anchor(s) may be.
  • This is long, enduring work that will go well beyond this week. As part of this challenge, we will create an antiracist action plan for the rest of the year. We hope this helps us all stay connected and committed to this work.

This program was designed by Madelyn Woods, PhD student in Earth and Climate Sciences, Anila Karunakar, Director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and Jen Bonnet, former Social Sciences and Humanities Librarian, all at the University of Maine.

The University of Maine recognizes that it is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, where issues of water and territorial rights, and encroachment upon sacred sites, are ongoing. Penobscot homeland is connected to the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations — the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac — through kinship, alliances and diplomacy. The university also recognizes that the Penobscot Nation and the other Wabanaki Tribal Nations are distinct, sovereign, legal and political entities with their own powers of self-governance and self-determination.

Have questions about this challenge or about any of the tasks? Don't hesitate to contact Lindsay Decker.

 Note: the content in this guide is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike.   

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