Cultural Fluency Duke HDRl | 2016-2017 | race, continued

"[We] have to focus our attention beyond individuals and symbols in order to develop a fluency capable of apprehending the persistence of structural racism even when legalized segregation has been declared historically obsolete, even when individual expressions of racist attitudes are not so easily condoned." - Angela Y. Davis

The Team

Chair: Jeff Nelson | Advising Dean: Deb LoBiondo

Briana Enty, Jeremiah Salois, Jill Zalewski, Matt Bailey, Shanci Robinson, & Shelvis Ponds

Committee Vision: The vision of the Cultural Fluency Committee is to see the Duke Community become a place where all members proactively engage, with mutual care and concern, the rich cultural diversity represented at Duke. It is the committee’s hope that such interactions lead to deeper appreciation of and sensitivity to the humanity represented in our community.

Committee Mission: The mission of the Cultural Fluency committee is to encourage proactive engagement of its Residence Life professionals and student leaders, through intentional training, in the racial demographics represented at Duke and the broader community.

Looking Back

Continuing our training modules on race, racism, and racial justice.

Module 2.0: The (West) End?

Facilitators: Shelvis Ponds & Jeff Nelson

Walking the West End Neighborhood of Durham, speaking to local business owners and viewing local landmarks, we listened to and experienced contrasting narratives about the "development" of this historically black neighborhood.

Module 2.1: This Land is (Not) Your Land, This Land is My Land

Facilitators: Jill Zalewski, Matt Bailey, Briana Enty, & Jeff Nelson

Through an activity about the history of polling inequality, we tried to show that not only is there inequity in US democratic systems, but that the system itself is unjust.

Module 2:1, cont'd

This module also explored the history of Indigenous populations in what is now the United States, their relationship with the land, their displacement onto reservations, and contemporary social issues (economic and health) that represent the "afterlife" of colonialism.

Module 2.2: Post-Election Awareness Activities

Three activities were presented, each focusing on a different level of injustice. First, "Who's In the Room" explored the systemic level of injustice, analyzing the power of who is literally and figuratively in the room or not in the room. Second, we took a series of Implicit Attitudes Tests to explore our individual bias. Third, we analyzed our department culture, imagining what a more just work environment might look like.

Module 2.3: Be Like U.S. Sustain U.S. (It's All About U.S.)

Facilitators: Shelvis Ponds, Jeremiah Salois, & Jeff Nelson

In this module, we argued that the United States' treatment of the Middle East shows that we desire for the Middle East to be like us, but also stand apart from us in order to understand ourselves as the better, more noble, more ideal way of life.

To do this, we explored three key moments in the creation of the racialization and "othering" of people who are or are perceived to be Middle Eastern, Arab, Persian, and/or Muslim: the rise of Communism, the Iranian Revolution, and post-9/11 United States.

Module 2.4: Debunking the Model Minority Myth

Facilitators: Briana Enty, Shelvis Ponds, & Jill Zalewski

Our contention is that the model minority is a myth created to maintain a racialized hierarchy of power. It does this by grouping diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities into a single monolithic entity (masking disparities between communities) and pitting them against other Communities of Color.

We explored what the model minority myth is, its origins (in the Civil Rights Era), limits (in positions of leadership), and the educational disparities it masks.

Module 2.5: The Middle Place

Facilitators: Shanci Robinson, Matt Bailey, Jeremiah Salois & Jeff Nelson

In this module, we argued that Latinx people and communities are in a sort of middle position -- simultaneously being pulled toward whiteness and white dominant culture and solidarity with other Communities of Color.

Small Groups

Complementing the training modules, small groups of four or five professional staff participate in shared experiences (lectures, exhibits, shows) that help them delve deeper into particular topics or issues.

13th (above), Hidden Figures (bottom), Issa Rae (upper left), I Am Not Your Negro, Awaaz, When Two Worlds Collide (upper right), Muslim student Engagement at the John Hope Franklin Center
External Trainings

Cultural Fluency helped a number of professional staff attend the Racial Equity Institute (Phase 1), Latino Challenges Toward Racial Justice, and a webinar on going "beyond diversity trainings."

Faculty & Staff Connections
Other Collaborations and Projects

Collaborated with the HDRL Assessment Committee to add questions about identity and inclusion to the Resident Feedback Survey, partnered with the Residence Life Training Committee to include the Racial Equity Institute (Phase 1) as mandatory training for all new hires, created West Campus Social Justice programming fund for RAs and GRs, worked with the HDRL Recognition Committee to recognize outstanding RA social justice programs, initiated conversations with the Office of Institutional Equity about RC/SDC hiring practices and implicit bias training, (re)started white caucus meetings, and began a formal self-assessment of our work thus far.

Selected representative quotations from the self-assessment:

"The committee’s attempts to always connect to Duke or Higher Education have helped open my eyes further to the issues we face as SA practitioners as well as just regular human beings."

"While I have enjoyed learning from the modules, I cannot say that my approach to my specific work has changed much as a result of them."

"I think CulFlu has provided a space in my work environment where I know that some of my colleagues are invested in similar topics and struggles for liberation. While I think our department has a lot of room to grow and learn (myself included) I am happy that we are having these conversations and pushing each other on a regular basis."

"I think CulFlu has supported my own learning by opening my eyes to what I didn’t know....It’s taken me a long time to realize that people placed me in a particular position on the social justice understanding spectrum, and that place doesn’t match where I placed myself..... I wonder if CulFlu modules could include more experts on the individual identities and topics. In their committee meetings, I know some professors and speakers come to them to discuss the next module and topic information. While these are recorded and available to listen to, I wonder if it were possible to open those sessions up to everyone."

"I don't know if it is Cul Flu or if it is the attention that we've been paying to social justice as a larger departmental priority (or both) but the awareness and the willingness of people to engage in conversation has changed, at least for some people. I think some team members were already doing a lot of work in the area but I definitely noticed that others were beginning to ask questions, raise issues, point out events on campus, think about events that might conflict, etc."

Oh, and we helped plan the Just Space Conference (sponsored by NCHO).


Photo credits: Duke University - "East Campus 009" • Unsplash - Alejandro Alvarez, Breather, China Town Holowaychuk, Dan Carlson, Dream Weaver Dyaa Eldin, Igor Ovsyannykov, Islam Peter Hershey, Janko Ferlic, Latinx Cristian Newman, Matthew Payne, Polling Station Elliott Stallion, Woman in Yellow Janko Ferlic, Michal Grosicki • When Two Worlds Collide • Issa Rae • Hidden Figures

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