The Fierce Urgency of No: Moving From Aspirational to Operational

The Fierce Urgency of No: Moving From Aspirational to Operational

Kerri-Ann M. Smith, Timothy G. Lynch
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3564-9.ch004
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The discussion in this chapter affirms the intentional and collaborative partnership built between the Inaugural Faculty Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (FFDEI), a Black, middle-aged, immigrant woman, who is a tenured member of the faculty, and a senior executive, a White, middle-aged man at a community college. The chapter engages reflection as analysis, situating the experience of a Black woman in a quasi-administrative DEI role and that of a White male senior executive in the context of historical and contemporary allyship and accompliceship. Coupled with historical references to emphasize the significance of transformational leadership, the partnership leads to the development of a values-centered model for DEI work at an urban community college in one of the country's largest university systems.
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Black women have led revolutions in the quest for liberation for Black people for centuries. History accounts for the arduous, intellectual, emotional, and physical labor undertaken by Black women. Leaders such as Nanny of the Maroons, the Ghanaian-Jamaican matriarch, who famously led the First Maroon War against the British (McLean, 2017; Tuelon, 1973) moved the dial toward liberation for Black people. Later on, journalists Ida B. Wells, who cofounded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Claudia Jones, the radical feminist whose work centered Black people across the globe (Boyce-Davies, 2016) challenged patriarchy and racism simulatenously. In later years, Anna Julia Cooper and Mary Church Terrell, Black women intellectuals who were instrumental to the suffrage movement and to Black liberation (Guy-Sheftall, 2009) and Black Panthers, Elaine Brown, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, and Kathleen Neal Cleaver, joined in the collective action against oppression in the struggle for Black liberation (Cleaver, 1999). Contemporary women such as Tarana Burke, who founded the 2006 #MeToo movement in fierce defense of women's rights, and the founding of Black Lives Matter by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors, in 2013, have championed the current movement toward the liberation of Blacks in the United States of America and across the globe (BBC).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Equity: The deliberate practice of creating conditions that meet the needs of all constituents in order to promote success and achievement for all.

Service: community hours and leadership provided by faculty members at higher educational institutions as part of their commitment to the greater good of the institution. This may include committee work, curriculum development, faculty governance work, and affinity group leadership.

Black Liberation: the quest for freedom of Black people from White supremacist cultural norms and systems.

Allyship: volunteering support on behalf of the values and experiences of marginalized groups through words and deeds that show a clear understanding of their needs.

Faculty Fellow: an opportunity for members of the faculty to assume a leadership role in the administrative ranks to learn and study leadership in specific areas. Fellows often work on specific topics or projects for a set amount of time, while conducting research and developing programs specific to their expertise and leadership commitments.

Tokenization: the use of marginalized persons for the benefit of the majority at an institution, without adequate consideration for the needs of the individuals involved. Tokenization removes individuality and exists on the premise that one person’s thoughts, behaviors, actions, and desires may represent an entire racial or ethnic group.

Marginalization: forcably pushing specific racial or ethnic groups into sub-standard systems or second-class citizenship because of systemic racism.

White Privilege: a societal phenomenon that renders Whitness as the standard, thus putting those who are of any White ethnic group at an advantage over others. This deleterious system of thought limits the success of Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic people and ingratiates White people into power, simply based on the color of their skin.

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