Dear Creative Writing Community,
As writers, teachers, and human beings, the creative writing faculty and I send our heartfelt support to our Black students, to Black writers in the Bay Area and beyond, as well as to the Black Lives Matter movement and conversation.
In response to the long history of state-sanctioned murder of Black people, the Creative Writing Department supports the protests in the Bay Area, across the U.S., and world. We commit to working toward anti-racism for our BIPOC and all students.
As a department in an institution designed to support patriarchy and white supremacy, the faculty and I are asking ourselves questions. We have a lot of work to do—we are a work-in-progress—and we welcome your feedback. The CW End of Semester Forum and Anonymous Student Survey were the beginning we hope of creating more avenues for your voices.
Some questions we are asking ourselves:
- How has the Creative Writing department aided and abetted the system of white supremacy?
- What have we been doing and what could we do more of to oppose systemic racism?
- What decisions could we make to counter the story of white supremacy?
- What are some concrete ways we can further support our Black, Indigenous, and POC students?
- What are the concrete ways we can support the Black Lives Matter movement and conversation?
We bring our ignorance, our privileges, our ongoing questions. We also bring our hearts and good will. And the three bones of the inner ear.
- This is an ongoing conversation, but as a starting point we renew our commitment to:
- hiring more Black, Indigenous, and people of color on our tenure track faculty, and to continue to press the University to prioritize the hiring and retention of BIPOC faculty.
- bringing BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA voices to our campus
- pressing the college and university to widen outreach to BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA students, and to ourselves buoy our efforts to mentor BIPOC undergraduate students to succeed and prepare for graduate programs.
- creating a new CW Marcus scholarship for BIPOC students
- creating this summer a multi-voiced Student-Faculty Working group to talk about pedagogy and community building
Please find below local resources for our Black students and all of our students who seek support, ongoing self-care and community. Also listed are ways to finance and strengthen organizations that support black and brown communities—including donating time and supporting bail funds in our city and beyond.
Perhaps I will see some of you out there protesting in your COVID-19 coverings—I know many of you are out there. CW supports you wholeheartedly. I wish you well, and more well.
Nona Caspers, Chair of Creative Writing
(P.S. Please consider joining the Community Gathering event Tuesday, June 16th 6:30pm. Take Place has been “working to create a space for our CW community to express their emotions around the continued violence and oppression of Black people in the United States.” You can talk (and/or listen) and they will lead a writing session. Curators received training from Professor De Robertis. Look out for the email coming today.) Zoom link for event.
SFSU RESOURCES FOR BLACK STUDENTS
Here is the contact information for Tarshel Beards, Director of the Black Unity Center. Students should know to feel free to reach out to her should they need help, referrals or just to chat
Counseling and Psychological Services: Offers mental health support services for students, faculty, and staff. These include individual and/or couples counseling, a range of support groups, skill building workshops, crisis intervention, alcohol and drug dependency counseling, etc.
Student Health Services: Provides accessible and cost-effective quality medical care for all registered students at SF State.
Food+Shelter+Success: SF State Basic Needs Initiative: Focuses on student hunger and housing insecurity at SF State. Connects students to resources on and around campus.
Associated Students Gator Groceries: Free campus food pantry. Offers weekly groceries, emergency meals, and snacks.
Title IX: Promoting gender equity and preventing sexual harassment/sexual violence.
The SAFE Place: Crisis intervention, advocacy and confidential Title IX support for survivors dealing with past or recent incidents of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, sexual harassment and/or stalking.
Dream Resource Center (DRC): Support services for undocumented students.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Retention and Education (ASPIRE): Supports high-need Asian American and Native American Pacific Islanders (AANAPI) and low-income degree-seeking undergraduate students.
Black Unity Center: Works to advance educational equity for students of African descent.
Queer & Trans Resource Center: Offers LGBTQQIA-related events, services, and resources to students.
Safe Zone Program: A voluntary training program for faculty, staff and administrators seeking to be LGBTQ+ allies.
Women’s Center: Provides a safe place for womxn of any and all backgrounds at SF State.
Anti-Racist Reading List: SF State faculty and staff have created an anti-racist reading list. https://news.sfsu.edu/news-story/sf-state-faculty-staff-create-anti-racist-reading-list
Thanks to Stanford Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity for sharing these sites.
List of bail funds by city: Bail funds are a way to support frontline protesters who are being arrested - as well as building towards a movement to end cash bail and free hundreds of thousands of people who are in pre-trial detention during a pandemic.
NorthStar Health Collective: NorthStar is a Minnesota-based street medic collective, offering first aid and medical support to people on the frontlines right now.
Reclaim the Block: Reclaim the Block is a Minneapolis community org providing supplies and support to protesters, as well as pushing Minneapolis to spend less on policing and more on healthcare, housing and education.
The Black Visions Collective and Legal Fund: Black Visions Collective, a Black, trans and queer-led organization, is helping lead the protests and advocating to defund the police in Minnesota.
Help When It’s Not an Emergency
A police killing is an extreme example of the ways racism manifests in America, but there are ways to support black and brown communities even when it’s not a state of emergency. Equal access to housing, food, medical care and education are crucial in the fight for racial justice.
In Alameda County, where black people make up 11% of the total population, 47% of homeless people are black. The grassroots organizations People’s Breakfast Oakland and the East Oakland Collective are working directly to provide meals and hygienic supplies to our unhoused neighbors, going out into the field even during the pandemic.
Planting Justice employs formerly incarcerated people and gives low-income communities of color access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Roots Community Health Center offers health services to those impacted by systemic poverty—including COVID-19 testing, which we know low-income black and brown need people most. The Transgender, Gender-Variant and Intersex Justice Project assists and advocates for gender non-conforming people, especially trans women of color, in California’s jails and prisons.”
National Resources: Ways to Help Black Lives Matter