Inspired by Seattle University's Jesuit Catholic ethos and in partnership with the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools and many other organizations, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) strives to live and lead as an anti-racist organization. We commit to anti-racist practices in order to honor the full humanity of all community members and collaborate across cultures and generations.
The Center pursues this commitment by strategically strengthening our capacity to think critically about the role race plays in our relationships, programs, organizations and institutions and takes bold action to build a more equitable community. Center staff, student leaders, faculty and staff are guided by the wisdom and insights of community members. We are committed to disrupting legacies of injustice that have led to the continued gaps in achievement, health and wealth between white people and people of color.
The commitment to live and lead as an anti-racist person looks differently depending on our racial identities. People of color have been working to name, analyze and dismantle racism in the United States for centuries. In the context of our work in Seattle, those of us who are staff, faculty, students and community members of color expand and deepen the Center for Community Engagement’s capacity as leaders confront unjust practices in our organizations, schools and communities. This commitment is rooted in the success of all youth, the well-being of all families and the health of the community.
It is imperative for those of us who are white to explore our own racial identity in order to be more aware of the impact of privilege, power and dominant culture on our relationships and work. Despite how good our intentions may be, without a fundamental understanding of how institutional and individual racism operates, we may be allowing a culture of racism to persist in which we are complicit. White staff, faculty, students and community members must reject the “white savior complex” and instead collaborate in solidarity across racial difference in equitable relationships. The more we can openly discuss the reality and impact of systemic racism, the more equipped we are to pursue a more just and humane world.
In furtherance of our commitment to racial equity a few of the immediate actions the Center for Community Engagement is:
· Enhancing individual and collective racial equity professional development for CCE staff, student leaders, volunteers and our partners
· Offering a new racial justice seminar for community engaged faculty
· Placing greater emphasis on partnerships with organizations led by people of color
· Increasing our focus on asset-based approaches to all campus and community partnerships
· Further strengthening our relationships and partnerships with local families
· Evaluating all CCE efforts including strategic planning, programs, training, recruitment, retention and events through an anti-racist lens
· Creating a culture of reflection and accountability toward addressing interpersonal and institutional racism
The Center acknowledges that the work of racial justice is an unfolding, dynamic and collaborative process. Despite our best efforts to address and prevent racism, systems and individual acts of bias may continue to occur in our programs and in the community. With this recognition we lift up the words of the Seattle University Chief Diversity Officer, Natasha Martin, “When circumstances occur that impact the health of our climate or the safety of members of our campus community we aim to respond wholeheartedly and mindfully.”
We welcome feedback from our campus and community partners about how we might better work towards living and leading as an anti-racist organization.