It’s time to transform higher education to a more inclusive, social justice-minded system.
CFA lays out a set of demands and justifications for those that center on redress for systemic anti-Black racism in the CSU. CFA is calling on all of us to seize this moment to begin the work for the systemic change that is needed.
Recently, CFA shared this statement:
George Floyd’s public execution is shocking, but not surprising given the persistence of anti-Black racism and white supremacy that dehumanizes Black people. It is one in a long chain of similar transgressions and murders, most recently including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and people are taking to the streets because the United States has failed to address this. CFA is a union representing faculty in the California State University System, one that is dedicated to anti-racism and social justice. As scholar activists, we have an obligation to address the structural racism that shapes policing in our society and that resulted in the murder of George Floyd. It is not enough to condemn this public execution that calls lynching to mind. Against the backdrop of a pandemic that does discriminate, resulting in disproportionate deaths to Black people, disproportionate economic burdens to Chicanx/Latinx people, decimation of Native/Indigenous people, and acts of violence and hatred against Asian Pacific Islander communities, we must take this opportunity to call on our leaders to not only condemn racism and white supremacy, but to announce programs to enact systemic change. In the coming days, we will issue a broader statement to highlight our anti-racism and social justice campaign and invite your participation.
In the following pages, CFA lays out a set of demands and justifications for those that center on redress for systemic anti-Black racism in the CSU. We are purposefully centering demands around Black issues. However, we want to make clear that as we deepen and extend our Anti-Racism Social Justice work, we will attend to the specific needs of the particular communities we serve rather than subsuming these under a general category like “people of color.” For example, we began our anti-racism work during this COVID-19 pandemic with a webinar and watch party to highlight and raise consciousness and advocacy around the sharp increase in racism and violence against Asian and Pacific Islander communities. We will continue to work in this vein, drawing upon the wisdom and voices of CFA’s Caucuses that are associated with the Council for Racial and Social Justice to address their particular conditions and needs.
CFA Demands these Actions, Programs, and Positions:
Everyone Needs to Recognize: Black Lives are Precious. The California Faculty Association affirms that Black Lives Matter and we must acknowledge the unique challenges faced by Black faculty, students, and staff in the California State University System and in the State of California. We must acknowledge that Black Lives are precious and should not face criminalization, murder, or brutalization.
We must acknowledge that CSU campuses do not exist in racial vacuums. Black faculty, students, and staff are criminalized both on CSU campuses and in our communities. We ask the California State University System, local and state governments, and the State of California affirm, that Black Lives Matter and to take serious, tangible, and public steps to protect Black lives, Black futures, and Black joy.
Uphold Rights to Protest Anti-Black Racism: Given the egregiousness of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, and several other such murders in recent years, too numerous to list, many members of our campus communities have taken to the streets to protest state-sponsored racist violence. CSU students, faculty, and staff who participate in public social protest, as is our constitutional right, do so with a desire to combat structural racism wherever it resides. The stresses brought upon us in recent months by COVID-19 and unexpected economic turmoil have merged with the outrage of repeated acts of violence that follow traditional patterns of aggression against communities of color in our society. CFA calls upon campus administrative leaders as well as city, county, and state officials to refrain from retribution against participants in social action. CSU students, staff, faculty, and community members should be protected against retaliation and revenge from law enforcement, campus administration, campus auxiliaries, and other such bodies that can wield power over protestors in myriad ways.
Defund and Remove Armed & Militarized Policing from Campus: CFA demands that the CSU divest from its relations with police institutions throughout the state, defund campus policing, remove armed police from our campuses, and join CFA in exploring community-based strategies as alternatives to policing that are based in community accountability and transformative justice (c.f.https://alp.org/programs/sos).
Scholars argue that George Floyd’s death reflects the racist roots of U.S. policing in slave patrols that existed to contain and constrain the movements of enslaved Black people and to maintain their enslavement. Policing in the U.S. has always had a racial target in Black people and the dehumanization of Black people has been a persistent feature: the historic and contemporary patterns of police stops, harassment, arrests, torture, brutalization, and murder of Black people bear this out. The CSU says it welcomes Black students yet, on each CSU campus, armed police exist, many highly militarized by virtue of the clothing, equipment, weapons, and culture we witness. The police represent a real threat to Black lives. Militarized police should not be deployed daily on our campuses given the low incidence of violent crime; this police presence strikes terror and fear in the Black campus community. CFA heeds the voices of Black students across the country as they call for universities to divest from police institutions, for the removal of this deeply racist institution from our sites of higher learning, and toward the full abolition of the police. CFA further calls for the CSU to direct the vast resources spent on policing to resourcing Black and Ethnic Studies along with targeted hiring of Black faculty so that faculty diversity reflects the CSU student body diversity. Toward this end, we also call for the CSU to endorse Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, abolishing Proposition 209, thus rendering our ability to pursue and enact racial justice.
Protect Black LGBTQIA+
CFA aligns with the Black Lives Matter movement, which declares that all Black lives matter, including Black people who are queer and transgender, women and men, intersex and non-binary people. We honor the lives and grieve the recent losses of Nina Pop (Sikeston, Missouri) and Tony McDade (Tallahassee, Florida), both of whom were killed by anti-Black, anti-trans violence. In this month, as we celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride, we recognize that the movement for queer and trans liberation was catalyzed by uprisings led by QTPOC (queer and trans people of color), often against police violence. In addition to the well-known 1968 Stonewall Uprising in New York (rest in power, ancestors Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and so many others), we honor the 1959 Cooper’s Donuts uprising in Los Angeles, the 1966 uprising at Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, and the 1967 protest in Los Angeles at the Black Cat Tavern. All three pre-Stonewall uprisings fought against racist, anti-trans, anti-queer police abuse, harassment, and brutality. As we declare that All Black Lives Matter, we know that we are building on a radical and beautiful legacy of resistance in California. Challenging ongoing racist police brutality as it intersects with anti-queer, anti-trans violence is the best way to express our collective pride, this month and beyond.
Resources to Support Black Students and Anti-Racism
Ethnic Studies AB 1460: A Requirement for One Ethnic Studies Course : The historical and longstanding infrastructures of universities, including the CSU’s, are fundamentally grounded in a white supremacist colonial discourse and culture. As such, these universities have served as the vehicle to perpetuate the oppressive stratification of racial, political, and economic systemic structures.Via course content, pedagogy, and delivery, hegemonic knowledge contributing to the marginalization and silence of Black, Indigenous, and students of color is consistently reproduced. Ultimately, this frames the justification of what an ideal society looks like based on white standards and this condones the “spirit murdering” (Love, 2020) and violent deaths of Black communities. To that end, CFA demands that the CSU Academic Senate reconsider and reject AS-3403-30/AA, and that the Chancellor’s Office and Board of Trustees remove from their agenda their proposed changes to Title V concerning “culture and social justice” which is purportedly based on the recommendations in AS-340320/AA. We reject AS-3403-20/AA because it advocates a diluted and distorted form of Ethnic Studies curriculum that is not representative of Ethnic Studies as a discipline. We also demand that the Academic Senate, the Chancellor’s Office, and the Board of Trustees respect the disciplinary expertise of the Ethnic Studies Council, which opposes AS-3403. CFA demands that Chancellor White, the Board of Trustees, and the CSU Academic Senate immediately support Assembly Bill 1460. AB 1460 would require at least one Ethnic Studies course as a graduation requirement in the CSU. This bill would help in the process of eradicating racism in this state by educating students to the histories, cultures, and lens of Black, Chicanx/Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, Native and Indigenous, and LGBTQIA+ communities in this country, their long struggle with institutionalized racism in the United States, and their resistance to their oppression. Students would have access to the documents, facts, and the knowledge that would empower them to change the world where they will work and live.
Resource/Establish Black/Africana Studies Departments and Student Centers: CFA demands that Black and other students be given access to Black/Africana Studies departments that have tenure-line faculty and budgetary allocations sufficient to provide for the systematic study of the story of African descendant peoples and culture, their conditions, experiences, and contributions. These studies challenge white supremacy/Eurocentric culture in academe, and present interdisciplinary content and perspectives that direct students toward the right of Black people to self-determination and liberation. Black Student/Resource Centers should be present on every campus to provide a space for community, celebrate Blackness, and be a respite for Black students. Black Student/Resource Centers should have a strong connection to Black/Africana Studies departments on their campuses. Black/Africana Studies faculty should be involved in these Centers’ programming and mission.
Mental Health/Counseling Teams on All Campuses: CFA demands that the CSU meet the International Accreditation of Counseling Services (IACS) standard of 1,000-1,500 students to one counselor. Year after year, the CSU consistently seeks to recruit Black students but does not provide adequate services, resources, programs, and structures to support Black students. Student safety, health, and well-being are racial equity issues on our campuses. CFA demands that the CSU commit to racial equity and closing the achievement gap for our Black students by increasing financial and institutional investment in mental health services and crisis intervention teams instead of putting money into policing CSU campuses. These crisis intervention teams require specialized training, and counselor faculty should be involved in any planning to safely and effectively implement these changes.
Currently, campus police are frequently called when the situation actually warrants trained counselors to de-escalate and provide students who are experiencing a mental health break with adequate assistance and treatment. Many students, especially students of color, have histories of trauma around armed officers due to the history of violence against our communities committed by police. Black students on CSU campuses frequently endure the bulk of state injustice when it comes to education, employment, housing, and police brutality. When police appear, who are not trained in mental health crisis, it exacerbates the trauma and has led to situations on our campuses where police intervention has resulted in further physical and emotional harm to our students.
The CSU must invest immediately and long-term in the health and well-being of our students, including hiring tenure-track mental health counselors on our campuses who reflect our commitment to our Black students and who are as diverse as our student body. The American Psychological Association described a “growing crisis” with the state of mental health on college campuses as the number of students seeking help for serious mental health problems skyrocketed over the last decade. Our campuses were already dangerously understaffed and the need for mental health services due to the stress and anxiety of the current crises facing our communities has only increased. It is urgent that the CSU respond to this demand and involve counselor faculty in the planning and implementation of emergency medical health services on CSU campuses.
Tuition-Free CSU, Targeted Admissions, and Retention Strategies Based on the decades-long trend of declining enrollments amongst Black, Native, and Indigenous students in the CSU and other higher education institutions across the United States, CFA calls on the CSU to provide free tuition for all Black, Native, and Indigenous students. We demand that the CSU join CFA in our advocacy to overturn Proposition 209, the ban on affirmative action, in an effort to end the systemic racism in admissions and hiring within the CSU System.
As part of free tuition, we also demand that every campus’ strategic plan prioritize increasing enrollment and retention rates for marginalized students, particularly Black students. Strategic plans should prioritize the promotion and expansion of Ethnic Studies curriculum, the establishment of Black Student/Resource Centers on every CSU campus, and increases in funding, resources, and personnel for centers that already exist. Strategic plans should also ensure consistent campuswide training on unconscious bias for all university personnel who interact with students and faculty. Lastly, to ensure retention of Black, Native, and Indigenous students, each strategic plan should prioritize the creation of a safe and inclusive campus environment that does not rely on police for safety.
Programs for Those Impacted by the Criminal Justice System As some of our campuses are situated within communities blighted by systemic and institutional racism through the War(s) on Drugs from both the Nixon and Reagan administrations via the mass incarceration of Black, Brown, and poor folks, many of our students (and some faculty) are system-impacted and/or formerly incarcerated. Within the current state of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, it is imperative that the CSU support those most impacted by these wars waged on the people. With existing Project Rebound programs at 11 of the 23 CSU campuses, there is a clear need for the type of wrap-around services provided students through these programs. CFA demands the CSU implement targeted outreach for student populations who are impacted by the criminal justice system. These outreach programs should provide support including and up to, funding and fully staffing offices, programming, dedicated study space, centralized locations, academic support, housing assistance, ally training for faculty and staff (similar to that we have for other marginalized populations), and mentoring. These programs should ensure retention and graduation for every CSU campus, that will serve – as Project Rebound does – individuals who are formerly incarcerated and/or system impacted.
Increase and Support Black Faculty
Racial Representation Among CSU Leadership CFA urges the CSU System to increase diversity among administration as a way to begin to better support Black faculty. CSU leadership from the Chancellor’s Office to the Board of Trustees, across the administrations, and throughout staff of the CSU campuses must be representative of the students and communities we share instead of giving homage to and being reflective of white supremacy. CFA demands that the CSU engage in reflection and hiring practices toward this end.
Racial Pay Equity CFA demands racial pay equity. Pay inequity by race exists on a national level as well as within the California State University System. Proposition 209, a racist law that prohibits race- and gender-conscious remedies to rectify underrepresentation in public employment, has governed California for the last 25 years, and it harms the CSU’s ability to hire, retain, and equitably pay Black faculty.
CFA supports the passage of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which repeals Prop. 209. Upon its adoption, we call on the CSU to immediately begin collecting racial data, analyzing race-based pay inequities among its faculty, and remedying them. CFA calls on the CSU to make all future pay offers to Black faculty candidates at levels which honor the principle of pay equity.
CSUs serve high percentages of marginalized students and this equates to lower pay for faculty. Among faculty, there are patterns of race and gender1 disparities that we refuse to accept any longer. Furthermore, its consequences fall harder upon some than others. Given Black women faculty carry the highest levels of student loan debt, they face a double burden when this is compounded by structures of gendered racism. Workload is also higher for Black faculty given that CSU faculty are majority-white, and CSU students are majority of color resulting in “cultural taxation.” Black faculty are too often hired as Lecturers and therefore, are doubly disadvantaged by the pay inequity of “teaching while Black” and “teaching as a Lecturer.”
Pay equity is urgent if the CSU is to not only recruit, but also retain, Black faculty. Retention without equity will not hold.
Recognize and Reward Black Faculty Scholarship/Creative Activity Pay equity is not the only issue related to the recruitment and retention of Black faculty. Black faculty must know their research, research lens, and creative production will be valued in the CSU. Potential applicants review carefully the CSU campuses to which they apply. Moreover, once hired, the research and creative production of Black faculty must receive equitable and fair evaluation in the Retention, Tenure, and Promotion process. Often, Black faculty do not receive the same mentoring support as other faculty. Their research is judged by others than their racial peers and often not valued at the same level as other faculty. The scholarship/creative activity of Black faculty must be extolled on campus given the history of neglect and even derogation of their scholarship, perspectives, and creative works, particularly when those works point to and condemn white supremacy. This has resulted in the accumulation of disadvantage throughout the careers of Black faculty. CFA demands that there be Black faculty available to serve as reviewers for Black faculty candidates for hiring, retention, extended contracts, tenure, and promotion. Targeted hiring programs intended to change the disproportionate racial representation of faculty throughout the CSU are needed to ensure fair and equitable review processes. These must be buttressed by programs to promote and develop the scholarship and creative activity of Black faculty.
The California Faculty Association demands that the CSU acknowledge and better support the increased responsibility placed on Black faculty, including Black counselors, as they work to meet the needs of our Black students in this time of police violence, both on and off our campuses. Students have been traumatized by their own encounters of police brutality as well as those they have viewed on a daily basis via social media and news outlets. These students need guidance and emotional support as they return to classes, and they will turn to Black faculty for this assistance.
CFA realizes that Black faculty who serve as mentors and role models for Black students are supplementing the work of counselors by providing emotional and psychological support needed to not only succeed in higher education but do so under the canopy of systematic racism. Black faculty are asked to speak for all Blackness on the campuses in committee meetings, as advisors for student groups, as well as in their classrooms. This increased ask or service placed on Black faculty is coined by Amado Padilla as Cultural Taxation. It is the “unique burden placed on ethnic minority faculty in carrying out their responsibility to service within the university.”
CFA demands that the CSU recognize and support the cultural demands of Black faculty, including Black counselors, as they strive to safeguard, educate, and support our Black students.
The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with brutal attacks and state violence resulting in the murders of Black people have brought white supremacy, anti-Black racism, and systemic racism back into the public gaze. The media and some of our leadership has reflected this as we read and hear their rhetoric change in an effort to call out racism. CFA is calling on all of us to seize this moment to begin the work for the systemic change that is needed as outlined above:
- Value Black lives.
- Uphold rights to protest anti-Black racism.
- Protect Black LGBTQIA+.
- Defund and remove armed, militarized policing from our campuses.
- Support the Ethnic Studies requirement Assembly Bill 1460.
- Resource/establish Black Studies Departments and Black Student/Resource Centers on each campus.
- Provide free tuition for Black, Native, and Indigenous students.
- Prioritize resources for mental health counseling, including Black counselors.
- Establish and resource programs for criminal justice system-impacted students
- Implement racial pay equity.
- Recognize and reward the scholarship/creative works of Black faculty.
- Relieve cultural taxation of Black faculty.
- Transform the leadership of the CSUs so that it is truly representative of the communities served by the CSU.
This document, composed by nearly a dozen member leaders with substantial engagement by Black officers and leaders, is intended to further and deepen CFA’s Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation in this historic moment when a spotlight has been cast upon systemic anti-Black racism, the brutality of state violence against Black people, and the deadly persistence of white supremacist hatred of Black people. If you choose to write CFA about these demands, we expect such messages to show your support, intentions, and plans for action to end systemic racism and anti-Black racism in the CSU, California, and the United States. CFA is firmly committed to our program of anti-racism and social justice; there is no going back.