Cabrini’s second Community Common Hour of the fall 2020 semester will feature a discussion on “Race in America,” convening three local social, educational, and legal experts on Wednesday, September 16, from 2 to 3:30pm in Widener Hall. Moderated by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Chioma Ugochukwu, PhD, the panel will consider inequities in American education, immigration, and criminal justice, as well as recent news tied to these themes.
“We are at a moment in the country that is ripe for the examination of inequities in all aspects of social life,” Ugochukwu said. “As an institution with a social justice mission, it seems appropriate that Cabrini ought to participate in the conversations around racial justice and lead in efforts to seek solutions to some of these systemic issues.”
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation has seen its most deep-rooted divides in race and socio-economic status laid bare, illuminating stark imbalances in many communities’ access to education and healthcare, as well as safe and just policing, Ugochukwu said.
The discussion will feature the voices of three Black women whose work has created positive change for students and their families in the Philadelphia area:
- Keir Bradford-Grey, a Chief Defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, who works to eradicate wrongful convictions, while establishing productive re-entry paths for incarcerated people.
- Zakia Y. Gates, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Cabrini, who leans on a wealth of post-secondary and K-12 teaching experience to guide her research and pedagogy in matters of critical race theory, social justice, and Black female empowerment, among others.
- Andrea Lawful-Sanders, a WURD radio host, WHYY contributor, former superintendent and school board member whose programs advocated for greater student access to higher education and upward mobility, particularly for Black students in Montgomery County.
“These women are right for this critical conversation, because they are well-versed in the issues and will not offer surface solutions,” Ugochukwu said. “They are doers who have done their part to effect change and implement policies that have directly and positively impacted Americans and society at large.”
A main focus for the panel, in addition to discussing the best paths to positive and equitable educational outcomes, will be to examine the role of education in improving the collective understanding of day-to-day inequalities faced by Black people. Gates, who coauthored the manuscript “How Racism Became the Real Pandemic,” said in a statement, “In order to really use social justice in courses, there needs to be a brave and safe space for students to be able to voice their perspectives about education, but to also help them be cognizant of how [educators’] social positionality shapes and influences biases and assumptions about students.”
The conversation will also aim to explore the trauma of Black women whose male partners and sons are the victims of police brutality and disproportionately incarcerated.
“It is important to me, as a Black woman, to have this conversation with other women,” Ugochukwu said. “Too often, the impact of systemic racism on Black women is not given enough attention; neither is the importance of including Black women in finding solutions. Women withstand the worst of the trauma that results from the killing and incarceration of their intimate partners and sons. They suffer the psychological and economic impact of the fallout from these crises.”
Ugochukwu said she hopes the “Race in America” Common Hour will provide a history and foundational understanding of the causes and effects of systemic racism, while ultimately bringing the conversation “back to the classroom” as panelists share potential solutions for creating a more equitable education landscape that instills culturally relevant lessons within its students.
The event will be live-streamed on Youtube for those who wish to attend virtually. Please contact Kerry DiNardo at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.