SLO faculty mark Black History month with 12-hour push back against racist attitudes

During Black History Month, faculty at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are continuing “blunt conversations” about the overtly racist attitudes that surfaced on campus over the past year through a 12-hour Teach-In on Thursday, Feb. 21 to assert that “Inclusion Starts with Me.”

Less than a year ago, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo administrators and campus members found themselves struggling with racist acts on campus including fraternity students partying in blackface.

Racist flyers showed up on campus, including some pinned outside the door of CFA Faculty Rights Chair Neal MacDougall, an agriculture professor, after he put posters promoting diversity on his bulletin board.

The behavior has embarrassed the administration, and more importantly, it has infuriated the very small number of Black students on campus—roughly 0.7% of the student body; the smallest percent in the CSU system. Plus, it has launched a push back starting with suspension of several fraternities from campus.

Yet, as MacDougall told the Los Angeles Times last year, “Racism is not simply the Klan marching around in hoods and burning crosses,” he said. “Some people think that if you don’t see those super-explicit, in-your-face things on a regular basis, you could say there’s no racism here.”

To help SLO students, and all campus members, understand that anti-racism and justice relate broadly to our lives, the SLO College of Liberal Arts is sponsoring the Teach-In from 8 am to 8 pm with topics ranging across academic fields including the sciences, art and history.

SLO CFA Chapter President Lewis Call is proud to say, “Several members of our SLO CFA executive board are presenting on panels at the Teach-in, including Sandi Clement, Lisa Kawamura, Shelley Hurt, and Andrea Terry. This shows that our local executive board is deeply committed to CFA’s anti-racism and social justice work, and that we want to work with Cal Poly administrators and the College of Liberal Arts to promote diversity and inclusion on our campus.”

Call added, “Plus, I want to recognize Gianna Bissa of Students for Quality Education who is participating.”

See the schedule of panels organized at the ‘Inclusion Starts with Me” Teach-In.