Each segment featured SU community members celebrating and challenging each other to help make SU the best place for our students, faculty, and staff.
The following statement is offered as a first step for our community. It serves as an opportunity to collectively recognize these lands – wherever we may find ourselves today – and our histories; to honor the Indigenous people past and present who belong to these places; and to have common and consistent language for Seattle University’s events and ceremonies that is crafted with care and wisdom.
As we begin our gathering, I invite us all to respectfully acknowledge that our campus is on occupied Coast Salish land, specifically the homelands of the Duwamish people.
To acknowledge this land is to recognize the history and legacy of settler colonialism; it is to recognize these lands, waters, and their significance for the peoples who have thrived in this region despite the consequences of displacement and broken treaties.
Let us take a moment to pause and pay our respects to Coast Salish Elders past and present and extend that respect to their descendants and to all Indigenous people.
Today we are cognizant that we cannot separate the history of Seattle University or our community from the history of colonialism and slavery in the United States. We acknowledge that African slavery came to the Pacific Northwest in its earliest stages and contributed to our political and cultural landscape. Slavery is part of our origin story, and we must reckon with this truth by first admitting to this reality.
We recognize the grave harm that colonialism brought to these lands the erasure of African identities not only under slavery, but also via racist laws during the Jim Crow era, and the segregation of people in our community. We acknowledge this nation was built and prospered through a brutal system of owning other human beings as property and exploiting their labor. We confess that the remnants of colonialism and anti-blackness exist to this day. That institutional racism is real. And, that we have reaped the benefits of the legacy of nearly 250 years of enslavement of free Black people, followed by over two centuries more of racial terror through lynching, legalized racial segregation, and racists laws, policies, and practices.
Let us work against racial injustice by looking inside our own hearts and considering our own actions. We must not only remember those who have faced violence and exclusion in our community, but we must also stand in solidarity with those who continue to battle hatred and racism today. We profess that Black Lives Matter, and we commit to unwinding the many harms, both personal and structural, caused by white supremacy. May we at Seattle University strive to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment for all people.
Good morning Seattle University community. My name is Dale Watanabe and I serve as the Director of the International Student Center. I acknowledge and recognize the painful history of the land that our campus occupies. I am a descendant of a family that once lived at the south end of campus, in what was once known as Nihon Machi or Japan town. By a presidential executive order just 79 years ago in 1942, every man, woman and child of the Japanese American community was rounded up and forced to live behind barbed wire in an American Concentration camp. Most from this community spent 3 years in the desert of southeast Idaho.
Today we recognize this wrongful act against an entire community simply guilty because of their race, and we honor the space that once was home to a vibrant neighborhood. Our beautiful campus includes several gardens designed by Fujitaro Kubota, who himself was imprisoned in the camp in Idaho, and our Japanese American Remembrance Garden designed by his grandson is a reminder and tribute to the immigrant community that once was a part of our campus that never returned.
As we gather today, we lift up the stories of our siblings who face anti-immigrant sentiment and hostility from members of our own community and beyond:
We pause with hearts open in prayer:
For the desperate and courageous brown and black children and families who cross the border looking for a better future. The victims of human trafficking coerced into slave labor and prostitution while pursuing the American dream. The families separated by immigration policies, and the children thrown in cages. The asylum seekers, detained in our prisons without cause. The multitude of refugees, forced from their homes to strange places through war or the destruction of their environment. The migrant workers, in our own Washington State and beyond, who must travel in search of work. Those who are not paid a livable wage but whose work brings the fruits of the field and the vine to our tables. Those who labor, at the margins of our communities, invisible and all too often exploited. And, the immigrants and the undocumented whose gifts enrich our land and our lives, but who are told through prejudice, pronouncements, and policies that their lives do not matter.
We confess today the ways in which we, as a university, may choose profit and power over the dignity and worth of each person. May we instead see the divine likeness in all of creation and strive to promote and enact immigration laws and policies that uphold the rights and dignity of every person, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Today we also acknowledge the reality of gentrification and structural racism in our community and the ways that Seattle University has benefited from these systems. Decades of segregation, redlining, and urban renewal policies have oppressed and exploited people of color and displaced lower-income residents in the neighborhoods adjacent to our campus. These policies have especially impacted historically Black communities that have called the Central District home for generations and historically Asian-American communities that have called the Chinatown-International District home since the late 1800s.
As we actively work against racial and economic injustice and the continuing legacy of gentrification, Seattle University strives to connect our faculty, staff and students to the local community through the Center for Community Engagement, the Seattle University Youth Initiative, the Center for Innovation Entrepreneurship and multiple other campus initiatives.
Let us pause to acknowledge and confess that the only way to fulfill Seattle U’s mission of pursuing a more just and humane world is through community relationship building and long-term individual, organizational, and system-wide focuses on understanding and undoing white supremacy.
We were born into the system of white supremacy. We did not choose it, but we are saddled with it. It was invented hundreds of years ago but is still pervasive because we are continually socialized into its culture. White supremacy centers on the lie of white racial superiority. It manifests in a myriad of insidious ways, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, a few of which were just mentioned. Every one of us is impacted by this self-sustaining system; it is all-encompassing. If we do nothing, it will continue to harm us and future generations. If we answer the call, we can interrupt and dismantle it.
Allyship happens in an accountable relationship to Indigenous, Black, and other people of color.
Being an ally does not mean distancing yourself from other White people.
Allyship is cultivating a relationship to risk.
Accountability is the mechanism that holds us to our commitments when otherwise it would be optional.
Allyship means going beyond the analysis of privilege, toward understanding the cost of white supremacy for all people.
Allyship is not only a concept or a politic, it’s a practice.
There is no formula to allyship. Allyship means living in tension and contradiction all the time.
Principle 7: Allyship is cultivating a sense of what we’re longing for, not only what we’re fighting against.
In a conversation with VP Martin, Michelle Alexander brought profoundly necessary and meaningful insights on the practice of mass incarceration that plagues the U.S. justice system.
Michelle Alexander brings audiences profoundly necessary and meaningful insights on the practice of mass incarceration that plagues the U.S. justice system, as well as eye-opening conversation on how we can end racial caste in America.
In her acclaimed best-seller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle peels back the curtain on systemic racism in the American prison system, which the New York Review of Books described as “striking in the intelligence of her ideas, her powers of summary, and the force of her writing.” With equal force and candor on stage, she breaks the silence about racial injustice in the modern legal system to reveal how mass incarceration has come to replace segregation.
Michelle, a legal scholar, social justice advocate, columnist at The New York Times and visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, explores the myths surrounding our criminal justice system from a racial and ethical standpoint, and offers solutions for combating this epidemic. Delivering an emphatic wake-up call from the “colorblind slumber” that our country has fallen under, she leaves audiences with a new perspective on the challenges facing the civil rights community and a rousing call-to-action for a multi-racial, multi-ethnic human rights movement for justice in America.
Given this consequential year including the social movement for Black lives after the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd last May, alongside a pandemic that has had both disproportionate health and economic impacts on communities of color, a contentious election season, followed by a deadly insurrection on our nation’s capital, and the elevated racial violence that continues against various communities of color, it is important to end this academic year with an opportunity to reflect upon the issue of systemic racism as we move to activate our campus around becoming an anti-racist institution. As each passing news cycle seems to reveal, we remain in a racial crisis with an ongoing struggle for a healthy democratic and just society.
As an institution of higher learning, we must honestly confront the complex forces of structural racism, work to minimize their impact and root them out, and strengthen our institution for the good of all students.
Racial Equity Summit – a LIFT SU initiative – is an opportunity to gather as a learning community with focused attention to deepen understanding and build collaborative capacity to pursue antiracist education at SU. becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive university.
The summit offers a platform for collective experience to reflect and deepen understanding of systemic racism, as well as to elevate, connect, and activate around LIFT SU and commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion more broadly.
LIFT SU was announced in October 2020. The “LIFT Off” Stakeholder Convening was held in December 2020. The meeting was a cross-functional university gathering of faculty, staff, students, and representative governing bodies. It served as the beginning dialog toward coordinating an intentional process for operationalizing LIFT SU and engaging a university-wide conversation.
The summit will feature the opportunity for a campus-only (virtual) facilitated dialogue with Michelle Alexander, a prominent race scholar, and civil rights advocate, and the author of the 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – seminal work that catalyzed national engagement on structural inequality. The New Jim Crow offers numerous entry points for unpacking the structural forces of systemic racism. Our engagement with this acclaimed scholar and activist will allow us to learn and renew commitment and resolve toward action in operationalizing LIFT SU and DEI more broadly.
The vision is for a collective experience – a time to take in together the significance of this consequential year, reflect on what we are learning, and position us to operationalize LIFT SU through a systematic and strategic process.
It is meant to be more than a “moment,” but catalyze a movement to affirm, ally, and activate towards action.
The summit aims to be more than a “moment,” but a catalyst to affirm, ally, and activate towards action for anti-racist education at SU, and stronger inclusivity for students, faculty, and staff.
Broadly speaking, the goals are as follows:
No. Mission Day will not be held this year.
While not a substitute for the Mission Day program, the Racial Equity Summit offers a dedicated forum for the university to come together and focus attention on the very critical matters of systemic and structural racism, and the impacts of systemic and structural racism within our institution as we generate the path forward to make Seattle University a more welcoming, inclusive, and anti-racist university. These goals are consistent with our Jesuit mission and values.
We have a mission-aligned vision for the Racial Equity Summit in the spirit of the experience we shared with Michael Eric Dyson in 2019.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is working diligently to include representative campus voices in the planning.
Additionally, we will be working with some faculty members to provide materials for faculty to use in incorporating the topic of systemic racism into their teaching across disciplines, and to engage Michelle Alexander’s seminal work, The New Jim Crow. In this way, the summit builds on the common text materials offered to first-year students and offers practical skills and knowledge for upper-division, graduate, and professional students, as well as for our graduating students.
If you have ideas you wish to share, feel free to send them to email@example.com. They will provide helpful information that we can share with the campus community beyond the summit, even if we are unable to incorporate them into the program.