This Black History Month, CFA members reflect on how we have been transformed by a commitment to combating anti-Black racism at the CSU.
At the January Board of Trustees meeting, CFA President Charles Toombs was awarded the Wang Family Excellence Award for outstanding Faculty Service. According to the announcement, the award reflects Toombs’ “service to the university and his deep commitment to creating just and equitable futures for Black communities.”
Toombs isn’t the only CFA leader to have received the Wang Family Excellence Award. CFA Northridge President and Film Professor Nate Thomas received the award in 2015 for outstanding contributions to the Visual and Performing Arts and Letters.
Toombs stated he was honored in mid-October when SDSU nominated him and was surprised on December 21, when he received notice that he was an awardee.
“Doing work that helps to create opportunities and success for students and faculty often means the status quo must be challenged, including institutional barriers that prevent equity, access, and inclusion. Working to eradicate institutional and systemic racism and inequity guides my service and professional work,” Toombs said.
In his remarks after receiving the award, Toombs made clear that having a seat at the decision-making table makes a difference.
“I have always thought it was important that my position as a Black gay man needed to be at the table to say and to offer perspectives that others would never even consider and so I’m really grateful for those opportunities to be at those tables. And as one of my mentors will tell me and others, if you’re not at the table, you are on the menu.”
Toombs work reflects CFA members’ own social justice transformation rooted in combating anti-Blackness at the CSU.
After the police murder of George Floyd, CFA released its Anti-Black Racism Demands, centering on redress for systemic anti-Black racism in the CSU. Our demands included defunding and removing armed and militarized policing from campuses, establishing Black/Africana Studies departments and student centers, hiring and supporting Black faculty, resourcing mental health and counseling teams on all campuses, and addressing cultural taxation. Our demands evolved into Our Way Forward, Volume II, and into our health and safety proposal during reopener bargaining that would eventually lead to first-time language in our Tentative Agreement establishing rights and protection for faculty who are interviewed or approached by university police.
“I want to thank the California Faculty Association for its vision of imagining a different CSU, one where we are really trying to eradicate anti-Black structures that are still there, that are just not helping and working for so many of us,” said Toombs.