What’s Different about Founders’ Day this Year…
This Founders’ Day is going to be different from years’ past. Rather than reaching out to community agencies and non-profits to help serve their needs, we will be reaching in…reaching into our hearts and minds over the most important issue of our time, racism. We know racism exists in every corner of this world, including on our own campuses. President Hays, in her recent statement, A Commitment to do Better, prioritized the importance of a daylong community dialogue on racism, equity, and social justice.
This year’s Founders’ Day theme is, “Calling all neighbors, get into 'good trouble!'” We are inspired by Congressman John Lewis’ life and legacy and we want to call on all of us to respond to his call for action:
"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble."
We will learn about systemic racism and the injustices it produced in this country for over 400 years; and we will learn about what it really means to get in “good trouble” and how our voices, our activism can help put an end to racism.
Although a day off from classes, Founders’ Day is still a day on. All community members will go on a journey throughout the day, listening, participating, learning, growing, and ultimately being inspired to commit to our own “good trouble.” Each group will be led by a team of two facilitators - a student and a staff or faculty member.
10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
This panel will focus on understanding the role that racism has played in how we understand ourselves and our relationships to those in our immediate circles. We will discuss some of the stereotypes and attitudes that are ingrained in us intentionally by institutions such as the media or our educational system. We will also start to unpack how we have worked to unlearn these deeply held notions and share strategies for doing so.
11:15 a.m. to noon
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
After a self-reflective experience in the morning, we have begun to deconstruct our understanding of racism and have examined the ways that we may be complicit. We have explored the question: “Who is part of my circle of concern? Who is a part of my “us” and who is a part of my “them”?”. We have been in conversations with our small groups that have helped us confront unconscious bias, our upbringing, and our conceptions of race. In this panel, we will use self-reflection as a departing point for the necessary work of anti-racism. It is not enough to simply claim that we are not racist, that is a deficit mentality that places us in positions of neutrality; but rather we must begin to explore the question: How can I be actively anti-racist?
Sister Rosemary Brennan, CSC, Professor Kevin Henze, Alexa Cuellar, and Judcine Felix will lead us in a discussion of the ways in which they have practiced anti-racism in their life and in their work. They will share experiences, pivotal moments in their race development, and their feelings around a topic that is so central to our shared lives together. They will also lead us in ways in which we can engage in necessary “Good Trouble”! After the panel, we will engage our small group in a closing reflection, with the central question being: What can I do to be actively anti-racist? What cause do I want to commit to and get in “good trouble” to advance?
2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
2:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.
Schemas are “templates of knowledge that help us to organize specific examples into broader categories” (Kang, 2008). These mental shortcuts allow us to quickly assign objects, processes, and people into categories (Kang, 2009). For example, people may be placed into categories based on traits such as age, race, gender, and the like. Once these categories have been assigned, any meanings that we carry associated with that category then become associated with the object, process, or person in question. The chronic accessibility of racial schemas allow them to shape social interactions (Kang, 2005).
Stereotypes are beliefs that are mentally associated with a given category (Blair, 2002; Greenwald and Krieger, 2006). For example, Asians are often stereotyped as being good at math, and the elderly are often stereotyped as being frail. These associations – both positive and negative – are routinized enough that they generally are automatically accessed (Rudman, 2004). Stereotypes are not necessarily accurate and may even reflect associations that we would consciously reject (Reskin, 2005).
Attitudes are evaluative feelings, such as having a positive or negative feeling towards something or someone.
(Greenwald and Krieger, 2006; Kang, 2009)
As soon as we see someone, we automatically categorize him or her as either ‘one of us’, that is, a member of our ingroup, or different from ourselves, meaning a member of our outgroup. Making this simple ‘us vs. them’ distinction is an automatic process that happens within seconds of meeting someone (Reskin, 2005). Deservedly or not, ingroup bias leads to relative favoritism compared to outgroup members (Greenwald and Krieger, 2006). We extrapolate characteristics about ourselves to other ingroup members, assuming that they are like us compared to outgroup members (Reskin, 2005). By favoring ingroup members, we tend to grant them a measure of our trust and regard them in a positive light (Reskin, 2005). This ingroup favoritism surfaces often on measures of implicit bias (see, e.g., Greenwald, et al., 1998). The strength of ingroup bias has been illustrated in various studies. For example, research has found that people tend to display ingroup bias even when group members are randomly assigned (Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, and Flament, 1971), and, even more incredibly, when groups are completely fictitious (Ashburn-Nardo, Voils, and Monteith, 2001).
(Source: Kirwan Institute)
The social construction of difference based on skin color and other factors (hair, eyes, facial features). In the United States, we use the following racial categories: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; White.
A shared heritage, culture or way of life.
The country or countries where a person’s membership in that nation is officially recognized through birth or a naturalization process.
How a person understands their own gender; a person’s internal sense of being male, female, neither, or somewhere on the spectrum of gender identity.
A description for a person whose gender identity aligns with the gender, which they were assigned at birth.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation. A transgender individual may identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, etc.
Physical, mental, and/or emotional ability. Examples of ability statuses are temporarily able-bodied, disabled, neurotypical, neurodivergent, and many more.
A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Additionally, typically to receive accommodations, the person must have a record of the impairment, and be regarded as having that impairment.
Having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.” Neurodivergence can be largely or entirely genetic and innate, or it can be largely or entirely produced by a brain-altering experience, or some combination of the two. Autism and dyslexia are examples of innate forms of neurodivergence, while alterations in brain functioning caused by such things as trauma, long-term meditation practice, or heavy usage of psychedelic drugs are examples of forms of neurodivergence produced through experience.
Having a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal.” Neurotypical is the opposite of neurodivergent.
The Dear Neighbor Task Force is the steering committee for Founders’ Day 2020.
Members are (left to right): (top row) Fr. Paul Kilroy, Audrey Grace, Mary Lou Jackson, Anabella Morabito, Dan Leahy (bottom row) Rachel Briden ‘20, Jim Wildason, Sister Mary L. Murphy, CSJ, Dimitri Stewart ’22 and Rashell Mezquia ‘23.
The Steering Committee would like to specially acknowledge the work of Regis North students Hypatia Ortega, Victoria Cerasuolo, Caitlin Clifford, and Kristina Stoddard who have submitted research proposals about Founders' Day centered around the issue of racism and social justice. Their work will undoubtedly contribute to Regis' fight against racism and help promote equity and social justice for all without distinction.