A Commitment to Structural Change

CISA’s Response to Systemic Racism and Violence

Protest marcher carrying sign: In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.

More and more people across the U.S. and in our local communities are making known their concerns about anti-Black racism, police brutality and excessive force aimed at Black citizens. White supremacy and racism have lived and continue to live in our histories and institutions, as well as in our policies, laws, and habits of daily life and language. These realities, that many have experienced, challenged, and fought to change for a long time, are now being understood as structural problems, and not simply as evidence of a few bad people doing bad things.

People from all racial and ethnic backgrounds in cities across our country are marching in protest against and calling attention to the practices and systems that sustain histories of violence against communities of color. Thousands across the United States and across the world are demanding new conversations, new encounters, and new ways to dismantle structural inequality. The College of Integrative Sciences and Arts is committed to transformative systemic changes in our college, our institution and our communities. This is our duty and responsibility. Our activism is rooted in our teaching and learning. 

Whether we are teaching in our classrooms, advising a student, engaging in a committee meeting with others, drafting policies, or any number of other activities related to our mutual enterprise at ASU, we find ourselves always and already implicated in a racist world. The challenges of racial injustice and White supremacy require that we pause, listen, and attend to those who most directly bear the brunt of systemic racism. We can then make a commitment to doing the difficult and demanding work of creating structural changes needed for a more just society. It may be jarring to realize that because of this we are in many ways, always already doing the racist business of racist institutions, disciplines, laws, and policies. There are ways to do different work. We can be brave and do antiracist work together. 

Antiracist work is a choice. We can choose to pause, to listen, and to attend, before we act to change our world together. This choice requires being open to seeing the world differently than we have in the past

To sustain this racial justice work, we offer these reflective questions in two categories, inner work and structural work. They can provide a start: 

Inner Work

  • How am I attending to the person(s) I’m trying to understand? 

  • How might my concerns, my perspective, be paused for a moment in order to allow other perspectives to be attended to? If I’m White, how might my perspective not be centered first? 

  • Do I need to offer a solution or is the person wanting me to just listen on their terms? (should I ask them?) Do I understand enough to offer a solution if one is being asked for?

  • What habits of language, judgment, and perception allow or afford me the privilege to miss small/large issues for other colleagues and students of color? Where do those habits come from? How have they been structured into me? 

Structural Work

  • What structural changes does this moment of national and global protest, solidarity and amplification of systemic racism afford us to make together? What changes in our conditions can we make that affect us and how we operate in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, at ASU, and in the communities of which we are a part?

  • How do formal institutional structures create relationships that potentially limit the capacity to recognize different perspectives?

  • How does one’s location within ASU’s institutional hierarchy both enable and limit one’s ability to see the realities lived by others positioned differently within ASU?

  • What am I afforded in this moment that others around me are not in the same ways or to the same degree? What policies, practices, or other structures can I help change to provide more affordances to Black and Brown lives around me? 

  • What am I doing differently today that I didn’t do yesterday? What exactly are the structural changes I've made recently that I can list?

Other statements at ASU: