RU-N Responds to Racial Equity
“‘We need a deeper, richer, broader discussion about the meaning of the diversity of our university in relation to the university’s mission. How does it affect our classrooms, our research, our campus life, our relationships to our communities, our societal impact?’”—Sentiments of Rutgers-Newark faculty, staff, students, and alumni shared by Chancellor Nancy Cantor in her cover letter of Rutgers-Newark’s Strategic Plan. Read how the members of the Rutgers-Newark community are elevating the discourse on diversity and racial equity in the United States.
Higher education — like every sector of our economy — is hurting badly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the current crisis has served to throw into sharp relief structural inequities that we have allowed to exist for too long in our state and our nation despite the best of our knowledge. Racial inequity, in particular, has been hurting us badly for generations, and at universities like ours we see students as they walk the uneven path toward social mobility. Click here to read more.
Members of the Rutgers Community,
The United States is at a tipping point with respect to racial and social justice. As I have been communicating since I arrived at Rutgers, we are living in a moment of global racial reckoning, a moment that calls upon us to be a country that lives up to the aspirations in its founding documents and takes concrete actions to end the social, economic, and racial inequities that persist. Moreover, from the conversations I have had with faculty, students, staff, and alumni over the past few months, I am convinced that Rutgers has both the capacity and the obligation to play a critical part in this work.
For this reason, I am thrilled to announce today that Rutgers has been awarded a $15 million, five-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a new, university-wide initiative: The Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, a scholarly project with centers based on our New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden campuses.
Aligning with the Mellon Foundation’s humanistic orientation, the Institute will support and amplify the scholarship of researchers who are based in the humanities or lean on humanistic methods and whose work has consequences in areas such as policy reform, K-12 education, social justice work, and the carceral state. It will bring together scholars from all disciplines so that the product of their work can help to inform real-world decisions about solutions to the problems that have, at long last, been thrust into sharp focus in this country and around the globe.
In establishing the Institute, we are declaring Rutgers’ deep investment in scholarly inquiry related to anti-racism and social inequality, at home and abroad. In this way, Rutgers will make clear that it is a welcoming place for scholars committed to the study of race and systems of inequity in governance, culture, commerce, and social control. This grant allows us to recruit more emerging and top scholars in these areas, regardless of academic discipline, and help retain our top young talent. The Institute will also fund post-doctoral fellowships, giving us an early look at the next generation of academic leaders on these critical topics.
I want to emphasize that the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice will function actively on each of our regional campuses and truly be Rutgers-wide. Each local center of the Institute will be led by a faculty member, coordinating with an executive director who will operate centrally and report directly to Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Prabhas Moghe. Professor Michelle Stephens, who submitted the grant on behalf of Rutgers, will serve as its founding director and principal investigator for the grant. We intend to recruit outstanding scholars to each of our campuses while drawing upon the strong talent we already claim in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick. Moreover, there will be synergies between the Institute and the important work of our Senior Vice President for Equity, Enobong (Anna) Branch.
I am extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this significant grant (full disclosure: I serve on the Mellon board but was recused from the decision on this matter), and congratulate Dr. Stephens and everyone at Rutgers who worked on preparing the grant proposal. I fully expect that this initial funding will be supplemented by philanthropy from individuals and foundations who share Rutgers’ commitment to understanding, confronting, and addressing global racial and social inequity and injustice.
Rutgers, an institution older than the country itself, has a history of excellence in the humanities as well as in the advancement of social justice through our centers, institutes, and clinics. Building on these strengths, the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice provides us with an opportunity to be an international leader in understanding the causes, effects, and solutions to problems that have plagued the world.
President and University Professor
The movement for Black lives, which is estimated to be the largest social movement in the nation’s history, has forced organizations across the country to reevaluate how their internal processes, structure and leadership composition perpetuate racism.
One of the most important aspects of this racial introspection is a widespread evaluation of who has a seat at the table where decisions are made and how power is distributed internally. This has led to conversations – within corporations and universities, entertainment and sports industries – about hiring, promotions, compensation and the inequity that exists between white people and people of color.
However, Congress continues to evade this scrutiny. The same Congress that claims it is responding to urgent calls to address systemic racism has avoided taking a hard look inward, and instead chosen to focus on removing Confederate statues. It is time to hold Congress – a workplace with tens of thousands of employees and the nation’s highest lawmaking body – accountable. Click here to read the full story.
Two of Newark’s busiest streets were painted with enormous messages promoting racial justice and equity. The murals were produced in collaborative partnership with the City’s Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Rutgers University-Newark Graphic Design Program, New Arts Justice at Express Newark, and local muralists Malcolm Rolling and Laqya Nuna Yawar. Nearly 300 students, artists, organizers and residents helped paint the messages throughout the day in 2-hour shifts as they practiced social distancing. Click here to read the full story.
After the Civil War, Edward Virginius Valentine returned from Europe to his hometown of Richmond, Virginia—the former Confederate capital—and began using his training in classical sculpture to enshrine the myth of the Lost Cause. Over the next few decades Valentine made a career of sculpting monuments to defenders of slavery, building tributes to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, among others. And he made the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond—unveiled on Monument Avenue in June 1907 by Davis’ last remaining child and toppled in June 2020 by protesters against systemic racism after the death of George Floyd. Click here to read the full story.
In these socially charged times, one of the most important things in the fight against systemic racism and our own internal biases is education. Faculty at Rutgers University-Newark teach and work at one of the most diverse university in the United States, and their research covers race and bias from across a wide range of disciplines in the arts, humanities, sciences, business and law. We put out a general call asking for book recommendations on the black experience in America, and the response was immediate and overwhelming. Below, our faculty recommend their current and classic favorites and tell us why we should read them now. Click here to read the full story
This summer, 18 students participating in SPAA’s undergraduate service-learning internship course completed 150 hours of internship work despite the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the unexpected challenge of having to navigate remote learning and work simultaneously. The class, taught by SPAA Assistant Teaching Professor Michael Dillard, ensured that the internship experience was a seamless one where students could utilize the weekly virtual class to navigate through their own internship challenges and explore more possibilities to improve their own skill-sets.
Supported by SPAA’s Writing and Career Development Center, directed by Terry Hall, students were provided with various resources and tools, including resume and cover letter templates, assistance with “elevator pitches,” and advice for navigating networking events. The center also provided information about job platforms such as Handshake, a Rutgers University–Newark employment site resource, to continue looking for more opportunities. From this summer’s class, 90% will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Arts in Public and Nonprofit Administration from SPAA. Half of these graduates will be continuing their studies by joining SPAA's Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. Click here to read the full story
Reparations could lead to new Black-owned businesses, which would lead to job opportunities for New Jerseyans of all races. And reparations would increase Black purchasing power, which would benefit current businesses owned by state residents. In other words, reparations could stimulate significant economic growth in the state, Emahunn Raheem Ali Campbell of Rutgers says. Click here to read the full story
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told enslaved people there of their emancipation from slavery, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This year, more than ever, it marks an important moment in United States History, but many people are unfamiliar with this holiday and its long history. Lacey Hunter is an instructor in the African American and African Studies Department at the School of Arts & Sciences-Newark (SASN), where she currently teaches African American Studies and Afro-American History. She received her M.A. in American History from Rutgers University-Newark and her Ph.D. from Drew University. Her dissertation focused on the role of African American religious ideologies on racial constructions. Hunter is actively involved in organizations that help urban students transition into college, as well as collaborative programs for “at-risk” college freshman, and is deeply committed to restructuring historical teaching and encouraging greater literacy rates among students of color. Click here to read the full story
The federal coronavirus relief packages were less effective than they could have been because they ignored the ways that the pandemic would inevitably harm some communities more than others. We must do better. Before doling out any money, we propose that governments at the local, state and federal levels, as well as philanthropies, analyze the impact the funding would have on women, men, boys, girls and nonbinary people across race and class and other social identities. Then they should ensure the money is allocated in a way that alleviates inequality, rather than reproduces it. Click here to read the full story.
Over the past month, a wide cross section of politicians, celebrities, billionaires, athletes, university presidents, and corporate brands have publicly and proudly proclaimed that “Black lives matter.” Coupled with that proclamation, we’ve seen bold statements about ending systemic racism and upending structural impediments to genuine equality in this country. Spurred by the on-camera killing of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street by police officer Derek Chauvin, this mounting support for Black Lives Matter appears poised to impact American society for years to come. But that can only happen if this new understanding of racism doesn’t displace the old one. Over the past few decades, our understanding of racism has evolved to consider the role of institutions, organizations, and government, alongside individuals, in perpetuating racist ideas. These entities are, however, comprised of individuals, and it is in our interpersonal interactions that racist ideas germinate and spread most virulently. I’ve come to believe that even my own focus on institutional or systemic racism (whether in policing, banking, medicine, housing, or education) may obscure the harms perpetuated by the individuals who inhabit those institutions and systems and who choose to accept racist ideas as fact. Arguably, as a law professor and historian of American slavery, I should know better. Click here to read the full story
As the world grapples with ongoing police brutality and the call for dismantling systemic racism, demands have escalated for Congress to provide antiracist policy solutions that reverse decades of unequal treatment that has rewarded whites and punished non-whites. However, one element of congressional policymaking that is consistently overlooked is how Congress manages its own workforce. Personnel decisions about who to hire and how to manage a political workplace are all matters of policy that provide a glimpse into how Congress is itself a racialized institution. It’s no secret that the congressional workplace is dominated by white political staffers. In 2015, I wrote a policy paper that documented the extreme underrepresentation of racial minorities in top staff positions in the Senate. I found that although people of color make up over one-third of the national population, they accounted for only 7% of top staffers. Similarly, in 2018, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that people of color represent 14% of top staffers in the House. However, we know little about the overall racial makeup of the congressional workplace because Congress does not collect or publish this data. Click here to read more
As part of his “Gone but Not Forgotten” series featuring people who have made an impact on New Jersey’s history, Steve Adubato and his former colleague Joanna Gagis, look at the extraordinary career of the late distinguished Rutgers University professor and historian, Dr. Clem Price. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUP1yi-zMD0
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the Humanities Action Lab (HAL), headquartered at Rutgers University–Newark, a $500,000 grant over three years to establish and support Climates of Inequality and the COVID Crisis: Building Leadership at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This national initiative comprises a cohort of minority-serving colleges and universities charged with confronting COVID, and its racially disproportionate impacts, through public humanities and public engagement. https://www.newark.rutgers.edu/news/mellon-foundation-awards-500k-hal-use-public-humanities-and-engagement-confront-covid
Voting by mail keeps people safe during a pandemic and increases voter turnout, Penny Venetis of Rutgers Law School says. One study found that voter fraud was so rare that it is far more likely that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.” Click here to read the full story
Lyneir Richardson, executive director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers Business School in Newark, has launched the Black and Latino Angel Investment Fund with 10 angel investors and has raised $500,000 to date.
Over the last few days it has been admittedly hard to collect my thoughts and find a voice, in the face of the unspeakable death of George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, all too similar to the fates and voices and circumstances of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald—we can list so many—even the cries for help decades ago still fresh in my mind from Rodney King. What do we say when it all repeats itself, over and over again? What do we say when it happens right in the midst of a landscape of heartbreak over a pandemic that too has had a disparate laser focus on precisely the same communities—families and whole communities that for centuries have broken their backs to hold up an economy that gives them back so little of its riches or its power or its freedoms? Click here to read the full story
As part of our series on Confronting Racism, Steve Adubato is joined by Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University-Newark, to discuss systemic racism over the centuries, why this movement is a moment of opportunity, and the growth of Newark, New Jersey. 7/25/20
The COVID-19 outbreak, the resulting economic fallout, and the Black Lives Matter movement have brought structural inequalities and institutional racism back into the limelight. Rutgers SPAA hosted a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 8, to address how these ongoing issues have impacted the field of public administration and the school, and how the SPAA community can come together to move the mission of the school forward in these turbulent times.
Helping Minority STEM Students Succeed: Distinguished service professor Alexander Gates will discuss improving the success of minority students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields. Register here to receive the link and event password to attend this September 23, 2020 webinar.
Rutgers Associate Professor Brittney Cooper will talk to RU-N professor Salamishah Tillet about Tillet’s scholarship and writing on the role of art in social justice, including the civil rights movements and Black Lives Matter, and about their mutual commitment to black feminist art and activism. Click here to register for this September 16, 2020 virtual event.
Sakia Gunn, Tony McDade, Ashley Moore, and Nina Pop are all Black Queer/Trans people who have lost their lives to violence, but their narratives are often erased in mainstream discussions about the BLM Movement. Join us for an honest dialogue that explores the intersections of homophobia, transphobia, and racism towards Black and Afro-Latinx communities in the US on Monday, September 21. Click here for more info.
Jack Tchen: Mayor de Blasio Appoints Leading Scientific Experts to the Fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change
Diverse, interdisciplinary panel will help New York City further expand its climate adaptation efforts by providing authoritative, actionable science on future climate impacts