[Marisol Romani] Thank you for tuning in to human rights, understanding the issues today. Why human rights are important to you and me. This event is one of a series of monthly panels by the Office of Social Responsibility and Inclusion. I am Marisol Romani, Chief Social Responsibility and Inclusion Officer for Dallas College. Social Responsibility and Inclusion is a three area division that serves an integral role in advancing Dallas College's institutional commitment to inclusion, equity, and belonging, for all people. Two such areas, are Diversity Equity and Inclusion and Sustainability. Dallas College celebrates the rich and diverse tapestry of our community members, their heritages, customs, practices, perspectives, and values. We are committed to highlighting topics that wIll advance our knowledge and understanding to bring about greater inclusion, community-based belonging, and care. We encourage dialogues that help us to not only grow our understanding and empathy toward others, but that also enhance personal growth, exploration, and the human condition. In honor of this effort and commitment, I am pleased to introduce Dean of e-Learning, Effectiveness and Enhancement, Shani Suber, who will be interviewing our panel today. Dean Suber has served the Dallas College community in various roles over the past 20 years, including adjunct, faculty and administration. As a servant leader, she leads our online learning and effectiveness efforts. Dean Suber serves on various boards, and as a community-engaged change agent. she volunteers her time and talents by imparting advice to the campus community through events like our recent Women's History Month panel. Welcome, Dean Suber.
[Shani Suber] Thank you, Marisol, and welcome to each of our panelists joining us today. I would like to introduce our panelists, starting with Miss Mwauna Maxwell, who is a community college educator with over 20 years of experience at Dallas College. In the course of her career, she has held roles in student affairs, administration, and instruction. Currently, she teaches Psychology and serves as a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. She builds and leads professional learning communities among faculty to increase awareness of our role in promoting equity and a deeper sense of connection and belonging in the classroom. Welcome, Mwauna, [Mwauna Maxwell] Thank you, Shani. Next we have Georgeanne Moss, who is the founding Director of the Sustainability area at the college, which was created in 2017 and currently serves as the Senior Director of Sustainability for Dallas College. Sustainability is one of three areas in Dallas College's Office of Social Responsibility and Inclusion. Other areas include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Supplier Diversity. However, she has led the DCCCD's Sustainability Program as a volunteer since 2007 when she co-founded the college's Sustainability Team. Under her leadership, Dallas College has transitioned to renewable energy, undertaken its first-ever AC STARS Report, and is working to develop its first-ever college-wide Resilience and Climate Action plan. Her primary goal is for students to graduate from Dallas College with a sustainable solutions mindset. Welcome, Georgeann. [Georgeann Moss] Nice to be here.
[Shani Suber] Yeah, it's nice to have you. And next, we have Dr. Jasmine Parker. She is a transformative and visionary strategist who assists organizations by interrogating and enhancing institutional culture, expanding equity, and promoting belonging for the sustaining of inclusive college change. A native to Dallas Oak Cliff area, she first joined the Dallas College community as a student at Mountain View and Cedar Valley campuses. And November of 2021, she rejoined the Dallas College community as Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, where she provides strategic execution and leadership of the college's Social Responsibility, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives and priorities. Prior to this role, Dr. Parker served as a Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Berklee College. As an educator, she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on the social foundations of education, curriculum design, school law and policy, personalized learning, school leadership, and history of the civil rights era and making a modern America. Dr. Parker is an advocate for community space building in which all people not simply feel like they belong, but know that they belong or valued, acknowledged, appreciated, honored, and know their viewpoints matter. She is excited to amplify this energy throughout Dallas College. Welcome. So, very excited to have each of you here today. And I would like to get us started on some of our first questions and engage in some dialogue. So a little background information, which starts as with Human Rights. So human rights are fundamental rights that belong to us all. Our rights and body key values in our society such as fairness, dignity, equality, and respect. They are essential means of protection for us all, especially those who may face abuse, neglect, and isolation. Just last Thursday, the nation had a variety of responses to the murder convictions of those who were responsible for the brutal and senseless killing of a Ahmaud Arbery. Yet this conviction does not erase the pain justified anguish and trauma that constantly haunts the black community. To each of our panelists, how can we better honor, support and celebrate black life to help reduce racial prejudice and violence against black people.
[Dr. Jasmine Parker] That's a big question. and I like to kick us off with our conversation on that. When I think of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, when I first think of is the violation of human rights, right? You just read the definition of human rights. It's about dignity. It's about honoring a person's personhood and what it means to be alive in the world, however they're living, however a person looks, whatever their pronouns are, and it means to be recognized, to be celebrated, to be respected. Have a person's personhood actually respect it, not hunted down in the streets as a person is jogging for exercise. And so when I think of that and I think about your question, the question is multi-focal to mean to me. To me, it's a battle cry of black people crying out to have their personhood actually respected, to have their human rights acknowledged, appreciated, and not tarnished, not violated. Or even worse, pushed to the margins, relegated to a subordinate class in our United States society, which we have seen time and time again. The honest truth is that Ahmaud Arbery's murder is not an anomaly. We can't say that black life matters in our United States until black people in our United States in general, will no longer have to hold their breath to see if the criminal justice system is honestly just, and upstanding for all of its citizens, for all of its residence, no matter their status of documentation to ensure that civil liberties, human rights, are respected and appreciated. That question is really personal to me because as you already introduced me, Shani, I am from Dallas, Texas. My undergraduate degree was obtained at Prairie View A&M University. What people don't know about me is that my dorm mate who lived on the second floor in our freshman dormitory was Sandra Bland. And Sandy was a friend of mine. I knew Sandy as a person, not a hashtag. And so when I think of what happened to Sandy and our experiences, there at Prairie View in Waller County. It makes me think of what continues to happen to black bodies across our United States society, and no one is really exempt. It could be a college educated person or a person who is uneducated, a person of upper-class status or a person of working-class status. It does not matter as long as the person's melanin is pigmented. And so when I think of human rights, I think about the need to respect black bodies and all person's personhood, no matter what they look like or how they identify themselves, or how they are perceived identify, as long as there's a person is alive, we should respect them.
[Mwanua Maxwell] I was just, I was thinking, you know, first of all, I'm so sorry for your loss. The loss is your friend.
[Dr. Jasmiune Parker] Thank you.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Thank many of us watch as that, as that, progressed and you are the first person that I've that, I've heard that actually knew Sandra Bland. And I just, I just pause to let you know that. I'm really sorry to hear that. I like the way that this question is framed. Because it, it's centers blackness, and it puts black people in the position of needing care and needing attention paid to us because many times we're not, that, that's not the framing of what it seems in society. It seems more like black people are, are seen as the aggressor or the person who is enacting some kind of crime against someone else. And the truth of the matter is, is that we're in a position of fear and danger in our society and in our communities, where it, attention really does need to be paid to what is happening with black people in the streets. And the violence is physical, as it was with Ahmaud Arbery. It is also psychological, is social, all of those things. And so as I think about, you know, what can be, what can be done, the first thing I think about in our setting in community college is that we need to take responsibility for educating ourselves. We really need to figure out what is behind, what is underneath these issues. Because It's easy to look at a situation. and for some people it's easy to say, well, why didn't he just stop and see what these men wanted? Or why did he run? You know, it's easy to place blame on the victim in the situation. I think what we really need to do is ask ourselves, what is underneath this? Why are the opinions about this so, so diverse? Why is it that we can't be on the same page with something so traumatic that has happened, that, that's affecting all of us, but especially him and his family. So educating ourselves, I think this critical, understanding the socialization of our society, how we are socialized in this society. And we have to talk about the racial hierarchy. We have to talk about how black people are at the bottom of that hierarchy, and white people at the top. We have to be comfortable actually saying that and talking about that. And then I also think about our responsibility in, in our, in our school society to actually act on things that we now know, when we understand what's going on and understand what's underneath, what we see actually in the media, then our responsibility is to actually educate ourselves and actually act, you know, create, create moments where we can have conversations. We can support policies that create equity for all groups. And so that's just, that's just a start, but it is a huge complex question. And ah. Georgeann, did you want to say something? [Georgeann Moss] I agree with everything that has been said. I especially agree with what you said about we need to do more listening. As a white person, everything that I have learned about being black in America, I learned from my friends and my colleagues who are black. And, and if I hadn't listened to them, really listen to them, I still wouldn't know and there's still so much that I don't know. That's one of the reasons why we brought, we, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion team and the Sustainability Team, brought Reflective Structured Dialogues to Dallas College. Because those are some difficult conversations to have. And so with Reflective Structured Dialogues, you can have those conversations with trained facilitators in a way that is non-threatening, in a way that is designed to help people understand and communicate across differences. So that's, so I definitely agree. right now we have twenty trained facilitators in Dallas College, and we're going to have our next training in February. And we hope next year to try and even more facilitators, because this needs to happen at every level in the college, right? In the classroom, in the administrative offices, with outside constituents. It has to happen everywhere and until we all become better listeners. I don't think things will change.
[Shani Suber] I really like some of the points that you all mentioned because specifically, I hear status and the unknown. And when I think about, you know, specific to Ahmaud Arbery and the idea of engaging with someone you don't know, or even being in the presence of someone you don't know. And that may be different or you don't know and I liked the way you mentioned background. So you don't know the person's background or who they are, where they come from, but you see a person and there's the unknown. And I think when we look at specific to Mr. Aubrey, what is the first thought and how people are seen? And do you need to know everything about that person's background in order to, as you mentioned, respect them? So it's the benefit of the doubt, right? So I wonder, you know, some of the things you mentioned which is being respected and being acknowledged, which may not necessarily engage with a conversation, right, but just simply, so could you speak to either one of you that point as it relates to engaging or being around people you may not know or you don't, again, have their background or anything about them, and the unknown.
[Mwauna Maxwell] I mean, I think about just the idea of self-awareness that, you know, we're not going to know everything about someone's background and where they're from or we're not going to know those things. And it doesn't require that for us to show dignity and to show respect towards someone as a human being. But that education does help. It does help us to broaden our scope and to come into a situation without so many biases. When we have those biases which are in many cases implicit, we don't necessarily know that we don't have them. And I like what Georgeann said about intellectual humility. That acknowledging that we're not going to know everything and it's a lifelong journey. We're never going to know everything. But I think that the awareness of the fact that there's a way that people experience me in the world. And if I can communicate in a way that is respectful, not just what I consider respectful, but what the broader audience might consider respectful. It's not just about me and my experience because my experience is not universal. I think that's important to keep in mind.
[Dr. Jasmine Parker] You know, one thing I think adding to that, that's important is the honoring of space. Right. Often times our United States society has fantastically, if that's a word taught everyone to live in a binary, to compartmentalize perceptions, ideas of people and sometimes to quantify space, Who's deserving of space? Who isn't deserving of space? Who's deserving of the benefit of the doubt to get to learn a person who isn't? How can we perpetuate stereotypes in order to really disseminate information quicker, right? And so sometimes when we think of what does it mean to be respected, we have to lay all of the cards out on the table and first answer some of those tougher questions. What does it mean to embody stereotypes? What does it mean to amplify and celebrate them simply because we want to quantify who we think a person is. And then within thirty-seconds, make up our mind as to their narrative, their lived experiences without actually asking them any single question. Not even what is your name, right? And so thinking of space and how we develop space, how we impart space to others and empathize with others can really be an individual journey. It ultimately hopefully becomes a collective undertaking where everyone is on a journey of wanting to infuse space, building every single dynamic and environment that they enter. And it also starts with the individual. We have to look inward and think about what space do we take up? What space do we extend to others so that they can be heard, so that they can activate their own agency within, so that they can thrive, right? Because otherwise they're just existing from day to day. And they don't necessarily recognize that they actually already have a voice. And that all it takes is for them to tap into it and amplify it, and then they will ascend to higher ranks. And so I think about the question of space, how we take up space and impart that to others a lot.
[Shani Suber] Okay. Thank you. Okay, Let's discuss health and human rights. We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world. Policies and practices may routinely interfere with accessible health care. Increasing vulnerability to ill-health, particularly for the poor, marginalized minority populations. So, what things can we collectively due to individually, collectively and individually do today to make a difference in this country locally, and in our college community? [Mwanua Maxwell] I think about, related to that question, we have to acknowledge how we got here. We have to do a deep dive and to talk about and think about why is our health system the way that it is? Why do we have disproportionate outcomes, health outcomes? Where does that come from? What is the history that has led us to where we are now? Because if we really don't look at the history of where we've come from. We can't, we can't, make we can't make suggestions for what we need to do to make it better. So yes, we have a very expensive health care system, but it's in, it's a system. So in order to change that system, we look at the history. But we also have to think about how, how might it need to look? What needs to look different about that system in order to meet people where they are? And I even think about permitted, preventative measures, things that we can take a look at. You know, we, we need to look at the history of redlining, to, to see what, you know why people are not living in safe spaces, in their environments, environmental racism. Why are people in areas where they don't have clean water, but they don't, they're not breathing clean air. They're in thermal hot spots. Why are these things happened? There are reasons behind that, and I think sometimes we skip that and we want to jump to solutions. But we really need to do a better job of understanding why things are, why things are the way they are. Then we can do preventative things so that people don't end up with ill health. People don't end up having to access the system as much because we're addressing where they live, clean water and healthy food. So you give people access to things that are, that are really healthy for their bodies and their systems. And we can prevent a lot of the things that we, that we see now that are, that are, that are happening because of these disproportionate outcomes.
[Georgeann Moss] And I love what you said. and I hadn't even thought of that when I was thinking about this question, I did jump to the end, because I believe that healthcare is a is a right, not a privilege. and I think it should be accessible to all. And I think that most everyone in America believes that and yet somehow our legislators have not gotten that message. And. so I think that we all need to take a much more active role in our democracy. We need to talk to our legislators, our local leaders, state local national leaders, and let them know what we want and what we expect out of them. And if they don't provide it, we need to vote them out. And it is just [hesitate] unfathomable to me that there are so many things that we do agree on in this country and we can't even get legislation to support those things. Yeah, we, we instead focus on a very small number of things that we don't agree on. So that I think, a democracy, a democracy is a privilege. and if we don't work hard to make this country what we want it to be, then we're going to lose it.
[Dr. Jasmine Parker] You know, I love both of your responses because they're both spot on. And to just bridge that gap of going through the history, and then what we can do solution-oriented now. It's really thinking back to that history component, right? Because I agree with you, we should activate ourselves and encourage everyone to be activated in a democratic fashion. But when we think of the history of that, we must think about contemporary issues to voter access, voter purging, closing precincts, not allowing mail by ballet for certain characteristics and classifications of people in our society, in our state, in our locality. And so as it relates to food deserts, redlining and clustering, mapping individuals by race and ethnicity, which has been a historical trait in our Dallas County over the decades and centuries, it is important to think about how can we undo some of that damage. And part of it is thinking through the history, naming that history no matter how ugly and doing away with the quote, unquote, Dallas way of brushing bad history under the rug, because we won't be able to have a preventative health care system, we won't be able to vote people out if people don't have access to voting rights, if people don't have access to clean water, air, food, clean soil, and not toxic soil in some of our regions of Dallas County? [Mwauna Maxwell] Yes.
[Shani Suber] Okay. Our next question is the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs supports 17 sustainable goals, which includes no poverty, zero hunger, good health, well-being, quality education, clean water, sanitation, and more. These goals build on each other and advance sustainability through human rights. So Georgeanne knows I'm looking at her. What local initiatives or partnerships can Dallas College support to convey that all individuals have human rights and are equal in dignity, as well as Mwauna.
[Georgeann Moss] So thank you for that question. Anyone who's talked to me for more than five minutes knows that I am passionate about the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals. In fact, we have planned our entire sustainability teaching and learning program around them because they're so important. And I just have to make this comment that sometimes people have approached me and said, You know, Georgeanne, there's 17, why, why don't we just pick one and really focus on it, and we do. Dallas College focuses on number 4, Quality Education. that is what, that's why we exist. But what we always tell people is that there are 16 others and pick the one that really, you're passionate about, that lights you up, and commit yourself to that, and and be a champion for that goal. And so on an individual level, that is what I'd say is that we all need to look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, find the one that we're passionate about and then do whatever we can in our life to support it. The one that I have chosen for the past 30 years is Climate Action. Because, for me, everything else is moot. if we, if we don't have a safe, healthy environment in which to live. So again, I think that we all need to pay more attention to the world around us and take action and do things that are going to help get us closer to the world that we want, rather than spending time, myself included spending time. on my phone, watching TV when I go home at night. I just think it's really important that we go to city council meetings. You know, there's a lot of drama there. It can take the place of some of the dramas, you watch on TV at night. I was thinking about there, there was a Sustainability Conference or summit in September. And I someone happened to send me a nine-minute video that just, it floored me because it's rare to hear people at upper leadership levels of organizations talk about, you know, this particular advisor was talking about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and why there, why they are having some of the problems that they're having with poverty in particular. And he was explaining how the history of colonization in that area and how that led to what we see today. And it was before a huge audience in, just making the point that there are economic reasons why there are, there are poor, poor countries and their lack of resources. And then there are rich countries and you have this wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots. And that really does make a difference when we think about, you know, no poverty, no hunger, hunger. We have to look at the distribution of wealth and how people get there. So that's, that's one thing. But in terms of community resources that I think we might be able to access. And what I would love to see Dallas College involved in at some point is an organization, it's a non-profit called Dallas Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. And they're local. I believe they're in the downtown area, and what they offer, they offer grant program that allows partnerships with other non-profits. We would have to apply. So if we were to get accepted into that program, they would take us on for ten months and they would give us intensive training on racial healing and racial understanding. They would give us training, they give us coaching. And they would also help us to look at our policies, to figure out how we might create more equitable policies in our system. and I really loved that because they have a systemic approach. So they're going to address the individual things that we need to know and understand about race relations. but they're also going to pay attention to the policies. And, you know, it's free, it's free to us if we apply and get and get funded for that. So I would love to see a future partnership with Dallas THRT.
[agreement] [Dr. jasmine Parker] I love how you bridged race and poverty together. Oftentimes in conversation, at least in historic circles, where a lot of historians are involved, people think about which trumps, which. Which identity marker trumps the other race or class? And is our United States. We can't really keep out race from class, because they're so intertwined. And it's important to notice that and also to note the impact that race and class has on the human condition, on Human Rights. And you're right, it is important. And the Racial Justice Healing Initiative, the grant, is phenomenal. They are doing wonderful work with non-profits. And I agree that we can't amplify that work if possible within our Dallas College System. It's also important to note what you said about sustainability and climate. And then also the impact our climate has on our food, right? If our world is getting hotter, we can't have adequate irrigation, that we won't be able to have adequate crops. and then if we can't have this sustainable food that we need, how do people survive? How does the human condition of our universe survive, right? And so when we think of climate and also no poverty, I see the intersectionality between those things because they can be equally oppressive, especially depending on the demographics of community and also where people live and their proximity to resources.
[Georgeann Moss] And I would just like to add one thing that came to mind after listening to my colleagues here. And that is one of the other things that we teach people is that sustainability is about equity, the economy, and the environment, or another way to put it as people, planet and prosperity. And, and we try to teach people that you have to have all three, right? You can't have a good economy if you don't have equity and if you don't, and if the environment is all messed up. And so the sustainable solutions framework that we teach our students is, to ask himself this question, every time they're about to embark on anything. whether it's a decision on what car to buy or what groceries to buy at the grocery store or some huge decision that you're making at work. Is this good for people? Is it good for the planet and is it good for our prosperity? And if any one of the answers to those questions is no, then go back to the drawing board, keep working on it because I believe that we are creative and we definitely can and should have all three of those.
[Mwauna Maxwell] And the people who are most affected by these things need to be at the table. They need to be because we, we, those of us who have more privilege are really on the outside in many ways. and I think that we need to make sure that we have representation of people who, who are truly mostly affected by these things.
[all panel members] Agree, agree, and well done.
[Shani Suber] Okay, Give them the state of our domestic and international politics, global climate crisis, rising cost of living and civil warfare, there are more people on the move today than ever before, especially to Dallas, right? That's how we advocate for vulnerable populations of people in need of opportunity, safety, and dignity, when they may be among the poorest, most vulnerable migrant and immigrant population seeking a better way of life.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Well, I'll talk about the classroom space. I think about creating a safe place in the classroom for our students who are from these backgrounds are migrant, immigrant students who are here with us. They are, in many ways. They were in a new country there. They're having a new experience. And I think the classroom can be that place where we invite them and where they feel comfortable. They might be getting a particular treatment out there, but when they come to us, when they come in our space, I'd like for us to be that safe space for them to feel a sense of community, to create a sense of belonging. And I think we can help them do that, as faculty. We can create spaces and create conversations that helped them to understand our discipline through their lived experiences. So that's very, very important for me as I think about especially creating community among themselves because they need a support system. We're not going to be there all the time. But if they can connect with other students who have, who might be not come from a similar place or might have a different, might, might see things from a different place. So they might be from different backgrounds, but they still, everyone in that room needs a sense of community. And so I would, I would start there with the classroom level. And that's good.
[Dr. jasmine Parker] You know, you make me think about my faculty days and you're so right, is so crucial at the beginning of any semester to build community with students. otherwise, there isn't buy-in. Asking students critical questions like, what would you like to see in this course? have you reviewed the syllabus? Is there anything that you feel we've left out? What type of dynamic would you enjoy, best enjoy for this classroom setting? How should our classroom engage with the world? How should we engage with one another? How can we build up and support one another in this space? And that trickles outside of that classroom dynamics, no matter what the environment looks like. And that is important when we think of the children of farm workers. We think of migrants, students, students who have sought asylum. Our undocumented students for whatever reason, we must champion all students no matter if they are a resident or citizen or not, all students have the capacity to learn, at whatever level they choose to learn. There aren't really learning preferences or styles. There are favoritism of different learning preferences, I would say, which is an oxymoron. But it is true. Students learn in a way that they prefer to learn. And sometimes the delivery or the person who is delivering the message may not be as received as well as others. When I think of my faculty teaching experience over the decades, I think of the expansive variety of students that I've had. Students who were affluent students. Students who were working-class, who got up three or four hours before school to catch a train in Chicago to get to Whitney Young and go to a preeminent performing arts school. And then students who were from the Chicagoland suburbs and Naperville And so when I think of just the dynamics and the richness of diverse, the lived experiences in the classroom, migrate students, students who have sought asylum, students who are fleeing civil warfare in many different nations in our world, deserve equal access to opportunity and they also deserve cultural competence. Seeing their lived experiences reflected in the curriculum or, or an experience similar, that's reflected in the curriculum so that they will see themselves and want to learn. rather than turning away saying I'm not going to learn that, or I'm not going to learn that from you. And so it's important to think about cultural competence in all students and their backgrounds when we approach classrooms.
[Shani Suber] Absolutely, I really like that point specifically, to lived experiences, and thinking about students like you mentioned, you know, faculty days and really thinking, you know, in the connection when your students first come in and sharing the resources, you know, the different, especially Dallas College has done a phenomenal job with our food pantries and our transportation and our counseling and different services that are available to our students. How do you fell that faculty and, anyone that engage with our students can truly bring that to the forefront and be mindful and advocate for those students, in lived experiences, as it relates to the various skillsets, technology, availability, all the very varying factors that students may come to, day one, in the classroom with, to be able to be successful in their college experience? [Dr. Jasmine Porter] You know, that's a really great question. What I love to do is, to not assume any student knows or what they don't know. I ask little prodding questions. Did you read the material? What do you think of the material? How did you see yourself reflected, especially to pre-service teachers? Especially because Dallas College is now offering a four-year bachelor's degree, it's important to ask our pre-service teachers, how did you connect with that reading? How do you connect with the lesson plan, or how do you see yourself being a facilitator of learning rather than a teacher commanding space and taking up all of the air, right? Sharing air time and space, being equitable with their delivery, being hyper-aware and observant of how people are receiving them, right? And so I think of that and I also ask my students, what do you know? What can you offer us? Give us insight on this thing? And I've done that over the years, asking my my K12 administrators, my assistant superintendents, and my instructional coaches, to really take up a little bit of space when it's warranted and lean in to the conversation and ask your fellow classmates who are practicing in-service teachers, what do they need from an instructional coach? How can an instructional coach and best support them to amplify their work? And so when I think of our college age students, I have the same mindset. We want to amplify the strengths that they already have. And then we want to build on some of those and growth areas and opportunities so that they will also be very confident when they leave out of our spaces and go into other aspects of the real world.
[Mwauna Maxwell] I was just thinking about what you just said about building on their strengths because, we have to believe that, that they have what they need, they have the capacity for learning. We have to, if we don't believe that they feel that they can sense when we don't really believe that they have what it takes. And so trying, trying to find ways to affirm what it is that they know, what it is that they are strong and, and letting them know that that matters, that they bring value to the table by being there. Whatever their experiences are, they bring value to that space. So and also language. I was just thinking about how language, both non-verbal and verbal language can really communicate messages to students that we don't realize. Students, our facial expressions, the way we move around the space, around those students, they feel that that's something that they feel. And I think we can, we can promote that, that sense of belonging by paying attention to the ways that we use language. The ways that, the ways that we speak language about their groups, the way that we communicate through the curriculum, you know, are these are, is the information that we're communicating about these groups. Is it affirmative? You know, or or is it always downtrodden, you know, struggling, victim, or does that curriculum bring out the strength of that of that community and bring out their assets. And I think we don't see that enough in the curriculum.
[Shani Suber] Our LGBTQIA rights. Nationwide, there continues to be a turmoil concerning the honoring and protection of the LGBTQIA plus community members. The study published by the Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy found that 59 percent of respondents did not feel comfortable being "out at work," either because of career repercussions or the burden of being seen as a representative for all, and made responsible for educating peers. How can we improve and ensure both belonging and equity for Dallas College employees? [Georgeann Moss] So again, I would say, I don't know, but I think listening is the most important thing. And I love this panel because this panel, when I was reviewing the questions, made me think about what I'm doing now or what I haven't done. And so my first thought was, I need to go ask my employees. Do you have a sense of belonging? How how do you feel? Do you feel supported? And so I make a commitment to do that now and, and I just need to be more aware that there are things that I never think about because, because they don't, I guess, affect me in the same way that they do other people, but I need to be more empathetic and get out in front of it.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Yeah, this one bothers me when I think about almost 60 percent of people LGBT plus, the community doesn't feel comfortable being "out at work." That is problematic. And I think that that's where we need to really interrogate what is happening? You know, trying to figure out why aren't people comfortable? I'm comfortable at work. You know, I, I can bring my identities to work and feel like I'm a part of a community, a broader community. So if this community is not feeling that they can bring their identities to work, and we really need to look at that. Again, educating ourselves about what this community needs. And just because we may not be a part of the community, doesn't mean that we can't listen and really research and try to figure it out. You know, we had I think, Pride Month was in June and LGBTQ plus History Month was in October. And so Dallas College provided several learning opportunities, professional learning opportunities for us. They're not too well attended sometimes. And I really, I really want to promote and help people to understand that just because it doesn't affect you, Does it make it unimportant? And we really need to look at our own beliefs systems and the ways that Christianity as the dominant religion around here affects how we view this particular community. And the things that we decide to support or not support, many times comes from a larger belief system, that we assume that, you know, just because we believe it, you know, other people need to believe it in the same way. And it's like that's not what this is about. It all. This is about us honoring and respecting people for who they are. And they should be able to come to our space just as they are, and not having to change themselves because their belief system or lifestyle isn't a part of the dominant group.
[Dr. Jasmine Parker] Mm-hm. Mm-hm. You know Mwauna, you made me think about Black Lives Matter. And you made me think about the hashtag #blacklivesmatter in the battle cry, that Black Lives Matter because oftentimes, members of the LGBTQIA plus community who also happen to be black, highlight that Black Trans Lives Matter too. The average age of a black trans woman is, at death, is 25. And so we think about that, 25 years old, where you haven't really lived or had the opportunity to experience life, and, uh, many people are murdered at that time. It is earth shattering. It should be a pandemic around trans lives in our United States. But there isn't a pandemic around trans lives because our United States has not declared that right? So we think about prioritization, what gets seen as a priority of whose life matters, we must include LGBTQIA plus lives in that. And to your earlier point on the lack of attendance to some of these panels and education learning opportunities. It is dismal and it has a significant impact on knowledge capital. Many people think about the umbrella of LGBTQIA plus as either gender identity and gender expression or sexual orientation. But the acronym actually compounds sexual orientation and gender identity, right? And of course, people have the freedom to identify and express their gender in the way that they wish and want to, right? So I can say that I probably sit here as a cisgender black woman who does identify as asexual. And many people don't perceive me to identify as asexual. Many people see me, they just automatically assume that I am quote, unquote heterosexual. I am heterosexual but I'm also demisexual, right? So and demisexual is under the umbrella of asexuality. There are so many different identities under that umbrella. And we think of a demisexual is simply just a person who is more stimulated by intellect, by familiar relationships, romantic relationships, but not necessarily the sexual orientation aspect of that, unless it's a particular person or a particular reason that has a long foundation. And so it's important to think about our perceptions, how we think of people, what we assume, and then also how that trickles into what we think we know. But we may not necessarily know or we're not giving ourselves the opportunity to unpack and unlearn, in order to learn new. [Mwauna Maxwell] yes, and language. There are so many terms that are new to people under this umbrella and it takes intentional effort to go, you'd have to go out of your way to grasp this information. It's not going to just fall into our lap. And just taking that step to understand the language, the appropriate language to use, I think goes a long way. And there's so many other things, I don't mean to make it sound like it's just about that, but that is what, that's how people experience us when they first meet us, when we're interacting with them at work, with our students, you know, are we, are we referring to our students and the names that they prefer and the genders that they prefer, Are we paying attention to that? And it's something because gender is so, is so socialized and so automatic to us that it takes extra effort for us to really get in our minds that I want to, I want my students to feel comfortable and whatever that means for them, I need to make adjustments to do that. If I have to write a sticky note and do whatever I have to do, that it is that important to me, that, that student also feels welcome in the space that we're in. So that, that is, that's an excellent point.
[Dr. Jasmine Parker] Thank you. And you know, you made me think of Georgeann's earlier point about shame. Having spaces that are free of shame. Because oftentimes, especially when it comes to conversations around sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, there is a lot of shame because there's a lot of stigma. And there's a lot of stigma because there's a lot of ignorance. And so Twitters are really great outlet for people to learn. But I would say that still there's some tropes that people follow. And then sometimes people who are within the community don't necessarily give people outside of the community who want to seek to be allies or be in solidarity, any space or any grace for any mistakes. It's important to recognize that we're all on a journey and no one is perfect. So people may say things like preferred pronouns, and some people are totally fine with preferred pronouns, all right? And then other people may say no, it's just my pronouns. aAd they may jump down a person's throat. So I just plead to America to allow people to have grace, operate from a space of grace and allow people to have hiccups. Ask people, did I get this right? Okay. That's how you prefer me to do that going forward. I will be cognizant of that and I won't make that same mistake twice and just move forward. But if we continue to live in a binary, in our society, we are headed for a human disaster, because no one will hear one another, no one will be empathetic with one another, and we won't be able to thrive in a community together.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Exactly. And it doesn't help to push it under the rug and say, you know, I'm just not going to participate. I'm just going to, that's not my thing, or I don't know anyone who would fall into these categories. So I'm just going to be outside of the conversation. There's no outside of the conversation. We all are inside of a community. And my advice is, create relationships with people, you know, get to know, people allow people to get to know you because if you don't know individuals, from the LGBTQIA plus community, then your distance, there's separation. And so in order to really understand what people go through, you have to get to know them on a personal level. And so that's, that's with the race as well. You know, if you find yourself only around your own group, it's limiting in there's so much you can learn in their mistakes that you can make with people that you're close to, that you might not feel comfortable within a broader setting. But that's where you want to make the mistakes at home right, before you get out in the world, you know, your family helps you to make adjustments so that you can get out in the world and people can know that you have an awareness. People know when we are not educated in a particular area. It shows in the way that we speak about things it shows in eye contact sometimes. And I just want people to know that, people are aware. You know. So, so take the steps to do the research, to create relationships, talk to people, attend professional development because it's not just about our, it's about our colleagues. 50%, that's too much. People, people need to feel more comfortable. that bothers me a lot. But also our students. It extends to our students and extends to outside of our campus community. that this is an area I think we really need to do better about.
[Shauna Suber] That. I think what I was thinking about as you, you all were speaking, was really kind of like you said, you know, my personal experience doesn't always indicate that this is the fact for everyone.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Yes.
[Snahi Suber] And I think, kind of that calibration of, we know experiencing our perception. And really continuing to think about the calibration of experiences in order to grow perception.
[panelist in agreement] I really like that.
[panelists in agreement] absolutely, excellent.
[Shani Suber] So we're at our final question in our conversation today, we explore human rights, understanding the issues today. Why humans are important to you and me? What role can Dallas College contribute to educating our employees and community on the importance of human rights? [Georgeann Moss] So again, I'll jump right back into the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Number 16 is Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. And I think that we have to continue to teach that to our students because it's not just what we do internally. We have this tremendous opportunity to share this knowledge with our students so that they can take it out in the world and they can become world changers as well. So between the 17 SDGs and the Reflective, Reflective Structured Dialogues, I mean, all of the things that we've talked about, I think that we just need to continue to do those and always be open and look for other strategies.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Yeah, I think sometimes we think in class, well, I don't want to bring up anything that might charge the students up, or but what we really should be bringing social justice issues to the, to the classroom because they are experiencing those things in their lives. And I was one of those faculty members who was like, I don't want that conflict in here, but I've, I've, I've had to evolve, I've had to evolve and actually bring that to the table so that students can really talk about it through the lens of our disciplines. And that's what, that's how we really help students to make connections. But also related to us. Again, I think that we need to take advantage of professional learning opportunities as they come. And the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning is a new place in our new system for all things faculty development. And so as we think about the next semester and beyond, I think it's important to understand how to access these opportunities, where to go. You know, Sharepoint is new for all of us. And so knowing where to go to find the opportunities we have the equity and educationally, we have the, other, other groups that meet as cohorts so that you can learn about particular subjects. But I also think that it's helpful to, on a personal level, maybe just decide on committing to this coming year of finding, doing research on a particular area of focus. Maybe you don't know much about Asian-American violence, in the US. And maybe that's something that you can find articles, books, podcasts, and spend time with that. Get to know people from those communities so that you can, you can grow and develop in your own understanding and your own knowledge base. And then, you know, every, maybe every year or every semester, decide on a different focus. Because there's so much, there's so many areas that we can say that, you know, I'm not an expert in all these areas. But if I don't know much about Native American history or the experiences of Native American people, then I can there places where I can go to get that, get to that information and so that when we do have conversations about their needs, I'm coming from a place of education.
[ Dr. Jasmine Parker] Absolutely. And you know, building of idea of professional learning communities that you're talking about. It's also important to think about different workshops and offerings for the entire employee base, right? Faculty and staff and administrative leaders. Thinking of diversity, equity, inclusion workshops and trainings that will be available hopefully in 2022 for our entire employee base [laughter]. Yes. So that people could work asynchronously through different aspects and issues related to topics like implicit or unconscious bias. What is that? How can you recognize that? How can you bring that up to your conscious psyche level in order to interrogate and dismantle that. And then other topics as well. In addition to the Structure Dialogues, so weekly or monthly articles that my office puts out on different content areas. That's important as well as partnering across our campus, across all of our campuses with our league, with many different offices to think through and actually interrogate, how equitable are our systems? Do all of our students have access to e-learning and effectiveness? Do all of our students have access to cultural competence in their curriculum? And also, are our employees being fed through professional learning communities, through support groups, through mentorship opportunities and programs, through employee resource groups. To really think through in brave spaces where people are holding onto their courage to speak the truth and say who they are, unabridged. And then also ask really critical questions, that are our center and core to our conversation. So those things are really important as well as doing some deep dives through toolkits that are content-based so that people can continue to learn, however, and wherever they choose to learn, in whatever environment that they find most conducive. All of those things are really core. But the foundation that all of that rests on is an opening and welcoming community, a community that actually wants to learn, a community that embraces the content, that decides to sign up for, for professional learning communities to work on different projects they meet annually or semi-annually, in order to improve the Dallas College System, to really think through and rework some policies to ensure that they are equitable for every person. And to also move the pendulum forward as it relates to our thinking now and into the next decade. So I think that all of those things are important and we have to start with openness, to want to receive the information.
[Shani Suber] And I like that point and I know we're going to be wrapping up here shortly. One of the things I think about, as we talked about some of the different topics and just the openness and connectivity and a representative, right. What would you say specifically to the Dallas College employee that may not have the toolkit or may not have the website, but simply just has questions and want to speak to someone to learn more? I would say start where you are. Everyone has a voice, everyone has a choice. And if it is they're doing to want to seek out and learn more, they can always e-mail email@example.com to get in touch with myself or a member of my team. They can contact me directly, if they so choose, and I will walk them through how to activate themselves, in order to hone in on their agency and their knowledge base. And also, I love to encourage rather than discourage. Oftentimes we think of the mountain that awaits us as it relates to social justice. There are so many different topics, so many different terms and I can't learn all of this stuff in a day or by tomorrow. And people get discouraged. It's important to always remember, this is a journey. None of us, including me, knows everything. We are always learning. And as long as people want to stay open, wanting to learn, to, wanting to be engaged and make contact with other people who are engaged, regardless if whether their perspectives and ideologies align or not, but are always equally committed to the journey, that's where they find their community. That's where they find their village and also stay encouraged. Yes, I'm like Georgeanne said earlier, [Mwauna Maxwell] we have to be willing to confront things. We have to be willing to speak up, because many times, if it stays in the silence, if stays invisible, it can't get, it, we can't improve it. And so just having the courage to say, you know what, I know this is uncomfortable in this social situation, but I can't just let this happened without someone saying something, and we can't feel comfortable saying anything if we don't have the education that helps us to know that whatever that thing is, is, is inappropriate or perhaps didn't need to be said or, you know, people, people have good intentions, but those intentions still sometimes result in impact, negative impact. So it's really important that we just, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and pull someone aside or I'm always willing to answer questions. And I've, you know, had conversations with people about things, but I've had practice. And I tell people this takes practice. And you have to put yourself in position sometimes to be uncomfortable because if you want to stay safe, you're not going to improve. And that's going to show up when you know, you don't know what to say. when when something happens in the room, and everyone stays quiet and then there's some someone in there who, who has negatively impacted. So yes, but support, I think, is I think is the key. If the door is not open, then people will want to stay on, on the outside.
[Georgeann Moss] I would like to just say, when we have these conversations, the people who are on the receiving end need to listen with resilience, right? You're going to hear some things that make you uncomfortable. You're going to hear some things that you never thought before. You're going to feel bad because you feel like you stepped in it sometimes, listen with resilience and like you'll said, it's practice.
[Mwauna Maxwell] Yes, this is great.
[Georgeann Moss] We just have to keep on, keeping on.
[Shani Suber] I love that. Wow, we have had some incredible points today. So while we were engaging in dialogue, they are just a couple things that I jot down just as to close this out, which is student, building our student's strengths, understanding that, you know, they are coming to the classrooms with that experience and that ability to succeed. Also understanding student insight and feedback, understanding space perception, voter access, democracy, supporting race and LGBTQIA plus communities, staying to safety in classrooms, and space. I just keep going back to those, so powerful. Our verbal and non-verbal actions that students perceive and our employees, belonging and the community, our 17 Sustainable Goals, including Quality Education, Climate Action, and making sure that we do engage in professional learning communities and groups. I want to kind of close out specifically to Dallas College and the employee resource groups that we have available. So I would say three things to learn, engage, and grow. So I'd like to thank each of our panelists today for joining us and thank each of you for watching and spending this time with us. Thank you.