Truth, Racial Healing, and transformation as a campus community Webinar

In collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Brown Center hosted a webinar on June 12. Below is the video, a description of the webinar, and the list of panelists, and a community prompt along with responses to the prompt.

Given the long history of racism on our campus and in our community, truly transforming our campus climate will require extensive education, self-reflection, and healing. Recently, the College of Law hosted a flash panel to discuss the consequences of the killing of George Floyd, and its context with respect to systematic racism. Please join us in the second panel discussion hosted by the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which will focus on racism that has occurred on our DeLand campus and what we can do as a community to heal, learn, and grow to truly becoming a diverse campus of inclusive excellence. Panelists include the following: 

Moderator: Savannah-Jane Griffin | Executive Director of Community Engagement and Inclusive Excellence 


  • Dr. Sharmaine Jackson | Assistant Professor of Sociology
  • Joanne Harris-Duff | Director of Diversity and Inclusion  
  • Melissa N Ndiaye |Black Student Association President  
  • Sensei Morris Sullivan | University Chaplain  
  • Dr. Harry Price | Director of Brown Center for Teaching and Innovation, Associate Professor of Chemistry 

In the panel discussion, we asked participants to respond to the below question, the anonymous responses are listed below.

The question form is still open and we encourage Stetson community members to participate in responding by following the below instructions. Responses will be updated daily to this webpage.

How have you been IMPACTED BY or PARTICIPATED IN ANTI-BLACKNESS and systemic racism? What is YOUR truth to this question?

  • I’m black so it’s every day. I’ve had co-workers ignore me, guests that came to campus and asked me where’s fried chicken? Did you eat it all yourself? – At an event where there was no food, and it made no sense for there to be food there. Students who were Seniors being accused of cheating by Faculty members because their work was so much better than it was when they were first year students. It’s an endless list.
  • I wore my afro completely picked out for one of the first times on campus, and one of the first comments I overheard by a couple of White students on my way to class was, “Oh my god look at her hair, I would die if I had to deal with that,” and honestly, I wasn’t surprised.. because it’s Stetson, but it was definitely uncalled for.
  • It has affected the way others see me or treat me. I feel like as a society we are currently steps behind, but now I believe that sessions like these are a good step forward.
  • As a white faculty member, I acknowledge that systemic racism and white supremacy influence both my classroom and my syllabi. I know that I have been guilty of defaulting to the white perspective as “true” or best in my courses. In practice this can look like assigning articles or textbooks by predominantly white authors (or perhaps not digging deeper to see if a BIPOC person had written on the topic first) or feeling most comfortable with “white” communication styles in person or in writing.
  • Silence, choosing when and when not to engage in social justice work.
  • As a black woman, I have been heavily impacted by anti-blackness and systemic racism. Ever since I was young, I have been exposed to racial stereotypes, profiling, discrimination, and injustice through the media, education, and personal experiences. It is a daily struggle to do different life activities (that is usually seen as a given) such as walking, driving, having a picnic, buying groceries, and more. I felt like it is a requirement for myself to stay vigilant and aware of my surroundings. I am uncomfortable almost every day because I feel like I cannot do anything without the threat of being harmed or worse because of my skin color. I should not need to feel like this! In regards to my experience as a student at Stetson, there have been multiple incidents where I have been compared to stereotypes that are used to degrade black women (i.e. “the angry, black woman” or “ghetto”.) When I reported these incidents, they were brushed off or handled “lightly.” This made me feel as if I was insignificant or inferior to my (white) counterparts–I felt that I was not taken seriously. As a school that is attempting to embrace diversity and inclusion, Stetson needs to improve on how they respond to racial discrimination and prejudices. Also, Stetson needs to make sure that individuals who perform such behaviors are held accountable; However, I digress. Due to systemic racism (and racism in general), there is a lasting weight on my shoulder that seems to get heavier with each day.
  • I’ve probably participated in it by not including multiple racial perspectives in my course material–which lends itself to such discussion. And I know I’ve thought the Stetson situation was horrific and have not done anything to heal it.
  • My daughter and I have been impacted by anti-blackness. My daughter was so excited about a doll she received as a gift. The doll was Black, beautiful, and her favorite. Then, another adult asked me, in front of my daughter, why we got her a black doll – surely she would have wanted one that looked more like her with lighter skin and blonder hair. Overt attempt to continue racism is unacceptable and violent.
  • I did not know that I was part of the first integrated Brownie/Girl Scout troop in my home town. I also didn’t know that my parents intentionally joined some others to make this happen. Looking back, I see what a big deal that was and how it was a baby step. I am impacted by racism regularly through my non-white family members, seeing how they are looked at and treated. I know some of that is because we are all together, but when will people NOT notice?
  • This space is not sufficient for me to express a lifetime’s worth of impacts as a Black American, so I will focus on things that are most relevant to my professional life at Stetson and elsewhere. I have been charged with diversity/multicultural leadership responsibilities, then been severely punished for white discomfort. That punishment has taken many forms including blatant and passive-aggressive hostility, withholding of resources, ostracism/blackballing, and deprivation of my livelihood. I have also witnessed such things as they have happened to Black colleagues and students. I have served as a sounding board and source of comfort for Black students and young professionals at Stetson who experience racist incidents and dynamics. My anger overwhelms me so often, but I don’t dare express it because I will be either punished or dismissed and that will just make me angrier. Over the years I have watched Stetson go through diversity/cross-cultural/intercultural staff/directors like potato chips and make no significant progress. Strong leadership in that area has always been kept at bay and/or silenced. Race has been downplayed and overshadowed by LGBTQ issues because – for whatever reason – that is more comfortable for white folks in general and it still allows the University to claim that active diversity work is in progress. Black staff are rare and isolated from each other (and from Black faculty). Dare I say that this is just a drop in the bucket?

2 thoughts on “Truth, Racial Healing, and transformation as a campus community Webinar”

  1. I have heavily impact by systemic racism and anti-blackness the entirety of my life. There has never been a day without it….As a black person, I have been overlooked or followed in certain stores, scared to death about the possibility of being pulled over and killed, had my intelligence/ability underestimated, had assumptions made about my ability to pay, etc., etc., etc. Systemic racism and anti-blackness are woven into the fabric of Stetson University….climate studies completed, cross-cultural directors hired/leaving with no substantive change. Race is the bottom rung on the diversity ladder of important issues for Stetson …. If one is “too black” — there are negative consequences. The way to survive (and I do mean survive because thriving has never been a real possibility) is keep your head down and keep your white colleagues comfortable in their own privilege.

  2. I was a white student at Stetson from 1965-69. I can honestly say that I have almost no good memories. One of the strongest that I do have was of one Sunday morning in the fall of my first year. I went to breakfast and joined a group of men and women at a table. Little of their identities remains to me except that all of them were white and thought of themselves as the “in” group.

    The question of what everyone did the night before was raised and stories were told around the table. One young man – a fine example of Southern manhood – recounted that they had gone ‘coon hunting the previous night.

    People chuckled somewhat strangely and asked “Did you get any?” “Yep.”

    I didn’t understand so I asked what they did with the ‘coons once they had trapped them. The answer – “Oh, we just rough them up a bit and drop them off somewhere out in the woods.” Everyone howled with laughter and I slowly began to realized that they were talking about people and not animals.

    My eyes were opened that day to the hypocrisy that Stetson Christianity was – an open lie that everyone seemed to posture around.

    As I have learned more and more about systemic racism, I realize how truly dreadful what I heard that day was a part of. And I also have realized something more. That racism is perpetuated by white male supremacy.

    The extreme racism I saw on Stetson’s campus carries with it another legacy – misogyny. Racism and misogyny are children of the same father-the idea that white males are the head of Christian households. Misogyny was also rampant at Stetson but I did not understand the interplay of the two at the time.

    I left Stetson, never to return. I also left the South. But racism is everywhere. It is systemic in everything our culture has constructed.

    One thing that the toxic environment at Stetson taught me, was that women will never achieve equality in this county until this toxic racism is deconstructed, abolished and our country has been reconstructed in a way that everyone thrives. Hopefully, Stetson can totally deconstruct itself and become a better place for everyone. Perhaps female leadership will understand why total dedication to this goal is critical to their own success.

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