Yesterday was inclusion in action, but there is still work to do

June is Pride Month, and with everything occurring in our country, yesterday was a symbol of inclusion in action. The Supreme Court ruled that civil rights protections extended to LGBTQ employees. These protections, which are consistent with our institutional values and non-discrimination policies, are important to creating environments where individuals can thrive and feel a sense of belonging and security. At the same time, we know that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) ruled that healthcare discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation would not be included in civil rights protections starting August 1.  Despite this outcome, our institution remains committed to supporting and affirming LGBTQ and gender diverse members of our community.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) recognizes there is still work to do. In the midst of continued protest and demonstrations, there are still occurrences where Black lives and, only a few days ago, Black trans lives Riah Milton in Ohio and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells in Pennsylvania, were victims of violence.

I think it is important to recognize the trauma that comes with these growing numbers and so, I want to be careful of what and how often we share information and communicate specific occurrences. ODI will continue to centralize racial equity and intersectionality in our work in not only this moment, but in how we develop future efforts and programs.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to:

  1. Support collaboration between ODI and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) with the intent to provide opportunities for the Black community to connect and heal and other opportunities for our campus community to better understand the causes and impact of racialized trauma;
  2. Remain connected with organizations and departments like the Black Student Union, African and African American Studies, Institute for Ethnic Studies, African and African American Leadership Caucus, Commission on the Status of People of Color, and other faculty to support their efforts and learn from their experiences and expertise;
  3. Ensure ODI can support colleges, departments and units in developing and/or implementing sustainable strategies for understanding, assessing, and applying racial equity principles in practice. Specifically, questions that can start your journey include how do you assess climate, how does your leadership create space to hear from and respond to concerns related to race and bias, what is the representation among your leadership, committees, boards, and where can learning on anti-racism be incorporated;
  4. Practice patience and care with myself, colleagues, and students—especially members of our institution who may have and continue to experience racial battle fatigue;
  5. Work with Chancellor Green, colleagues, and governance groups to devise a way forward to better address anti-racism and racial equity practices and elevate research and creative activity that speak to these topics;
  6. Read and learn how I and our office may best support institutional, systemic, and sustainable change—this includes leaning on institutional experts, literature, webinars, and social media resources like #BlackintheIvory on Twitter; and
  7. Be a resource to our city and state on these issues.

I will try to maintain communication with our campus community through periodic updates and our newsletter, Igniting Inclusive Excellence. Please do not hesitate to contact us or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date.

Resources and Information

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

                Race Equity Webinar – June 18

Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services (OASIS)

                Dish It Up – Tuesdays at Noon CST

LGBTQA+ Resource Center

Counseling and Psychological Services

Race Equity Tools

USC Equity Principles

In solidarity,

Marco Barker
Vice Chancellor