phoneWhites for Racial Justice aims to establish and strengthen students’ solidarity
Newswire photos by Hannah Paige Michels | Whites for Racial Justice’s March 14 meeting will be devoted in part to examining recent data from the Bias Advisory Response Team. Meeting topics are determined by the current campus climate and attendees’ input.
Xavier’s new affinity group Whites for Racial Justice (WFRJ), which made its campus debut earlier this year, aims to establish and strengthen solidarity among students.
According to its mission statement, “Whites for Racial Justice (WFRJ) is an affinity space for self-identified white staff, faculty and students at Xavier University who want to become anti-racist, anti-supremacist white allies and examine their own ideas about race and racism.” It also aims “to develop awareness, knowledge, and skills that will enable us to work in solidarity with others towards racial justice on campus and in our broader community.”
The group was founded at the beginning of 2018 by staff members Randy Browne, Tracey DuEst, John Fairfield and Andrea Wawrzusin. Fairfield explained that the four staff members, who serve as the group’s facilitators, were inspired to make WFRJ an established group because of an increased presence of racist attitudes both locally and nationally.
“(We) came together out of a concern about the way racist attitudes have become more prevalent and more accepted both on campus and in the country at large,” Fairfield said.
While the facilitators aim to address and eradicate these issues, they add that the source and solutions for said issues are not as concrete.
“We do not claim to have definitive answers as to why that has happened or as to how we should respond,” Fairfield said. “But we have been heartened by the response we have gotten so far, and we are listening carefully to those who are attending our meetings.”
The facilitators said that WFRJ’s attendees are crucial to further developing of the group because of their influence on meeting topics. Rather than establishing a hard and fast modus operandi for the meetings, each meeting’s topic or topics are determined by the current tensions on campus as well as the information attendees would like to learn more about or find important to discuss as a group.
This method was chosen so that the facilitators and students involved have the ability to figure out how they would like this new group to grow and where its future lies.
For example, the facilitators decided to base the March meeting on two topics: the history of racism and incidents of discrimination on campus as reported by the Bias Advisory and Response Team as well as the climate survey conducted in 2016. The meeting will also discuss the first chapter of the book Racism: A Short History by George Frederickson.
This meeting will be held today, Wednesday, March 14, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. in the Musketeer Mezzanine located in Bishop Fenwick Place. The information gathered at the meeting will determine the path for April’s meeting.
Although WFRJ is only beginning to establish its presence at Xavier, the facilitators maintain that its goal will continue to be to spread solidarity via reflection and acknowledgements of racism in the community, beginning with Xavier’s campus.
The next meeting will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. on April 18 in the Musketeer Mezzanine. More information can be obtained through contacting Tracey DuEst through email or phone at (513) 745-3114.
By: Alana Harvey ~Staff Writer~