Summer anti-racist groups: what they did and how to get involved

Design by Mira Chandriani

On June 9th, 2020, just days before the end of spring term, faculty members Samantha Littlejohn, Ben Slater, and Courtney Rein sent an email to the student body “on behalf of all who want to help our community work against racism and anti-Black violence.” Their goal was to bring together faculty and students to continue and expand the antiracist work from the spring into summer, by creating a series of small groups focused on learning about and taking action on specific issues. Faculty and student leaders of the 12 different subgroups met together weekly over the summer to discuss leadership, and then had a separate weekly meeting with their smaller group.
“My group was really lucky to have really amazing, passionate, engaged founding members from the beginning,” said Cassie Eng ‘21, student co-leader of the group focusing on Housing Rights. Many groups had informative discussions and put together resources for their peers to access to educate themselves more on each topic.
At the same time, student leaders acknowledged the difficulty of doing this work in the summer, for a number of reasons in addition to the shelter-in-place. “I definitely don’t regret taking part in it because I learned so much about Environmental Racism,” said Ava Becker ‘21, co-leader of the Environmental Racism group. “But I remember learning about the idea of white urgency, and trying not to buy into that,” she said, referencing the sense of urgency felt by white people regarding antiracist work that results in a lack of thoughtful decision making. Regardless, she said, “I don’t think my group got to the activism part as much, [because of it taking place in the summer].”
Eng, along with a few other summer groups, agreed. “That’s one of the reasons why [my group] turned into a club, because we weren’t fully satisfied with the six weeks and wanted to keep working,” she said.
Below is a list of each summer group, what they focused on, and how you can access their resources or get involved this fall.