ADDI Update – April 2021

Dear Friedman Community,

What a month!  It was marked with some signs of progress. On the 8th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared racism as a serious public health threat. On the 20th, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts for the death of George Floyd. While these are positive developments, one can ask: why hasn’t racism been declared a serious public health threat before now?  The history and statistics are unequivocal. Why did it take an extreme case, many eye-witnesses, and video evidence for accountability to occur?  Why do the deaths continue? There is a long way to go before we achieve true justice.  

As the Chauvin verdict was being announced, Dr. Erika Lee was presenting on Yellow Peril: Xenophobia and Anti-Asian Racism in the US Today, an event sponsored by Bridging Differences Initiative and the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. (It literally took place as the verdict was being announced, and Dr. Lee is from the University of Minnesota – she did an amazing job of keeping composure during her talk). Dr. Lee relayed important history of Asian oppression in the US. In the second event in this series –  Tufts Table: Anti-Asian Hate and Systemic Racism: Breaking the Cycle, held yesterday (29th), students described their own and fellow students’ experiences with racially-motivated attacks that happened on Tufts campuses – some that happened last week. As a reminder, there is a  resource list with many concrete, actionable items to take regarding anti-Asian racism and a reading list on AAPI experiences and the politics of racism, as well as a resource list from Tufts libraries (attached to this email). Also, another plug for the Voices of Chinatown event from last December. The website has a recording of the event, in which community members discuss practical steps that Tufts can take. There is also a list of resources.

At Friedman, my focus this month has been on training. While we await the eventual roll-out of mandatory university-wide anti-racism and anti-oppression training, I am exploring more specific options for Friedman. To that end, Adriana Black and I attended the Soul Fire Farm’s Uprooting Racism Training this past week. We agree that it has many strengths and would be ideal if they were able to customize it somewhat for Friedman. While they do not currently have capacity to provide organizations with customized training, this will be a good option when they are able to expand capacity. I am also looking into training on implicit bias. There is an HR course on implicit bias in the hiring and selection process; however, implicit biases may cause harm in all interactions, and a broader training can help to at least bring more awareness to the issue. It is also important to acknowledge that this type of training may fall short, and work toward structural changes must continue. I have also been looking into training around mentoring to complement the work of a subcommittee of the Academic Cabinet that has been working to build a structure for faculty mentoring at Friedman.

On another front, the Friedman Anti-Racism Action Plan and several of the university workstreams have called for changes to the appointment, tenure, and promotions (ATP) process. I’ve started work with Patty Dawson Gregg and José Ordovás to begin to consider revisions to the ATP Manual. 

I wish everyone well as the semester draws to a close. As always, please just reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

Sara C. Folta, PhD
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

RESOURCES: Thanks to Ellen Messer for the heads-up about this blog post on using Leah Penniman’s book Farming While Black in the classroom for those who teach on sustainable agriculture.  

EVENTS: Tufts now observes Juneteenth as a university holiday. The celebration each year will include an annual update on the progress of the anti-racism recommendation implementation and other programming. If you are interested in putting together a session for this year’s event, be on the lookout for the latest DEI Newsletter from the Chief Diversity Officers for instructions.  If you aren’t receiving the DEI Newsletter and would like to, please contact Maren Greathouse