All of us at the Center for Transformative Teaching were saddened and angered by the senseless death of George Floyd in May. We remember, too, the many other black lives unnecessarily and unjustly lost in this country. Therefore, the CTT believes that we should make a statement that echoes and supports those made by Chancellor Green and Vice-Chancellor Marco Barker earlier in the month.
I admit as a citizen of a country other than the U.S., I have been hesitant to comment publicly on this issue in my professional capacity and on behalf of my U.S. colleagues at the CTT. Having reflected though, I come from a place with an appalling record of colonial abuse of other races, a country that is guilty of the shameful operation of the Atlantic slave trade, and one which has a more recent domestic record littered with racial injustice and hatred, and I feel I should add my voice to those already heard. As a Briton, I must own the role of my country in the abuse of people of color on a titanic scale. Britain didn’t just furnish the U.S. with its language and religion, it also made a significant contribution to the systemic racism we see today.
Yet the people of Britain and the U.S. have, like many other countries around the world, participated in protests responding to George Floyd’s death. In England, statues that are reminders of slavery and injustice are being demolished. Protestors have taken to the streets demanding change and a better future, and all English soccer teams took a knee and replaced the names on the backs of their shirts with "Black Lives Matter."
Facts of this kind allow me to share in a renewed commitment with my colleagues to justice for black Americans and other people of color and help provide a spur to action. As Chancellor Green recently reminded us, we cannot simply acknowledge the situation with sadness and move on, "we must take real steps to address racial inequities and a history of exclusion [and] we must take them now."
The CTT is determined in both our strategy and our actions to place inclusion and diversity at the forefront in supporting teaching and learning at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in a way that acknowledges bias and racism against underrepresented groups and seeks to challenge it. To this end, we have created a number of resources and intend to collaborate with others around the university to create more.
For example, the CTT has created a guide to inclusive excellence in online teaching in collaboration with Dr. Nkenge Friday, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives. We will also be working with the library – which already has an excellent diversity resource – to expand and develop further materials. We are collaborating with Professors Gwen Combs and Joe Dauer to design a day on campus dedicated to inclusion, and we will offer workshops on inclusive excellence – which we hope to co-create with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion – which will be a compulsory part of the CTT's Academic Development Resource. In addition, future teaching and learning grants offered by the CTT will require applicants to state how they will build inclusive excellence into their teaching.