Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-racism—IDEA

The Department of English of FSU stands in solidarity with all those engaged in the fight against systemic and institutionalized racism. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Daunte Wright—as well as the deaths of countless named and unnamed others—testify to the ongoing violence committed against Black people in our communities. The deeply entrenched historical roots of this violence along with those more casual acts of racism that perpetuate racial injustice must be denounced and resisted.

We also express our outrage at the murder of eight individuals in Atlanta, six of whom were of Asian descent and seven of whom were women. That attack was part of a much larger, documented surge in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans since the declaration of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The murders also belong to a longer history in the United States of discriminating against and stereotyping Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. We urge the FSU community to call out and confront violence against women and all forms of racism and xenophobia, including racist claims that scapegoat particular groups or countries for the global pandemic.

We recognize that issuing this statement is in no way a substitute for the necessary and sustained work of dismantling and combating systemic and institutionalized racism; that we must continue to examine our own practices and complicities in the injustices we condemn, and that we must be active rather than passive participants in this fight. As teachers, scholars, and staff members we hereby declare our commitment to this work and to providing a place of learning, of safety, solidarity, and inclusion.

This site represents one part of the English department's efforts to foster and implement anti-racist practices in our classrooms, workplace, and the community at large. A collaborative space where members can access and share resources, the site relies on community members' contributions in the form of documents, links, pedagogical resources, multimedia files, announcements, and other relevant items.

Please explore this page, and please continue to check back regularly as we update with more information.

 

Recent Resources

> Please read Teaching & the N-word: Questions to Consider by Koritha Mitchell, who is currently a professor of English at Ohio State University. She also is an author, literary historian, cultural critic, and professional development expert.

 

In response to racial injustice and anti-Black violence in our community, the Department of English wants to amplify calls to speak out against racism and to support activists and organizations that are working on the front lines of the battle against systemic oppression. If you want to get involved, below are some resources and links.

Compilations

How to Support Protestors in Every City” by Jael Goldfine and Taylor Champlin of PAPER magazine. This page provides a list of ways to contribute to bail funds for protestors who have been arrested in cities and regions across the US.

“Resources for Accountability and Action for Black Lives”: – This Google doc includes information and links to petitions, funding sites (for bail, legal aid, and health care for protestors), as well as multiple organizations involved in the national fight for racial justice, such as the Movement for Black Lives, BYP100 (the Black Youth Project), Communities United for Police Reform, Black Visions Collective, and many others.

 

Organizations (with brief descriptions from their websites)

Tallahassee Community Action Committee: "We are a local grassroots organization dedicated to fighting for peace, justice, and equality through direct action."

Tallahassee Bail Fund: "The Tallahassee Bail Fund is a community group that pays bail for those who can't afford it in Leon County, FL."

Color of Change: “We design campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward. Until justice is real.”

Center for Black Equity: The vision of this organization is to “build a global network of LGBTQ+ individuals, allies, community-based organizations and Prides dedicated to achieving equality and social justice for Black LGBTQ+ communities through Economic Equity, Health Equity, and Social Equity.”

Circle of Mothers: “Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, created the Circle of Mothers as a way to empower women. The purpose of the Circle of Mothers is to bring together mothers who have lost children or family members due to senseless gun violence for the purpose of healing, empowerment, and fellowship towards the larger aim of community building.”

Dream Defenders: ”The Dream Defenders was founded in April 2012 after the tragic killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. That Spring, young Black, Latinx, and Arab youth marched from Daytona Beach Florida to Sanford Florida where Trayvon Martin was killed. With that fire in their bellies, they then went back to their communities and campuses to organize. Dream Defenders is a multiracial group of young people who are organizing to build power in our communities to advance a new vision we have for the state. Our agenda is called the Freedom Papers. Through it, we are advancing our vision of safety and security – away from prisons, deportation, and war – and towards healthcare, housing, jobs and movement for all.”

Know Your Rights Camp: ”A free campaign founded by Colin Kaepernick to raise awareness on higher education, self- empowerment, and instructions on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.”

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation: ”The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation is a 501 (c) 3 non-partisan civic engagement organization that strives to cultivate institutional base-building capacity and intergenerational leadership models at the local, state and national levels. NCBCP is committed to nurturing a climate where new thinking, innovative and traditional strategies of empowerment are respected and freely expressed; and strategic partnerships and alliances are welcomed. By educating, motivating, organizing and mobilizing our communities, the NCBCP seeks to encourage full participation in a barrier-free democratic process. Through technology, educational programs and civic leadership training, the Coalition works to expand, strengthen and empower Black communities to make voting and civic participation a cultural responsibility and tradition.”

LIVE FREE: “With over 118 million people attending weekly services in over 350,000 congregations across the U.S., we believe that a social justice revival within our faith institutions would transform our nation’s hearts and minds, and ultimately, the policies and practices that perpetuate these evils. With hundreds of congregations as well as countless leaders and movement partners throughout the country, the LIVE FREE Campaign is working to end the scourges of gun violence, mass incarceration, and the criminalization of Black and Brown bodies that tears at the soul of our society.” This group is currently running a “Masks for the People” campaign, “a humanitarian effort to address the lack of preventive care and resources being made available to our loved ones in jails, urban neighborhoods and poor rural communities. Every $10,000 dollars create 5,000 kits that include masks, hand sanitizer, garments, PPE, etc.”

 

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge that the Williams Building at Florida State University is located on land that is the ancestral and traditional territory of the Apalachee Nation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. We pay respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to their descendants, to the generations yet unborn, and to all Indigenous people.

We recognize that this land remains scarred by the histories and ongoing legacies of settler colonial violence, dispossession, and removal. In spite of all of this, and with tremendous resilience, these Indigenous nations have remained deeply connected to this territory, to their families, to their communities, and to their cultural ways of life. We recognize the ongoing relationships of care that these Indigenous Nations maintain with this land and extend our gratitude as we live and work as humble and respectful guests upon their territory. We encourage you to learn about and amplify the contemporary work of the Indigenous nations whose land you are on and to endeavor to support Indigenous sovereignty in all the ways that you can.

Learn more about Land Acknowledgements.

 

Faculty and staff resources

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month—May 2021

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates and pays tribute to the contributions generations of Asian/Pacific Americans have made to American history, society and culture. For more information, visit the Library of Congress website or the Asian Pacific Heritage website.

Advising First's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Erasing Invisibility

Click here to watch a recent panel hosted by Advising First at FSU that celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) Heritage Month. The panelists discussed erasing invisibility within the APIA community.

We Are Not A Stereotype Video Series by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Statement by former Florida State University President John Thrasher

> FSU English Assistant Professor John J. Garcia recently created a video to promote his participation as panelist for Rare Book School symposium on “Race and the Boundaries of the Book.” Garcia’s video s titled “Runaways: African American Papermakers During the American Revolution,” and his contribution is one of seven trailers for the symposium. “Race and the Boundaries of the Book” was a 45–minute panel discussion followed by 15 minutes of Q&A via Zoom.

The Rare Book School is a nonprofit organization based at the University of Virginia and supports the study of the history of books, manuscripts, and related objects. The seven 'bibliovideos' range from Indigenous contributions to 17th-century printing to the Emancipation Proclamation and can be found on the school’s YouTube channel.

> FSU English Assistant Professor John Ribó and FSU English doctoral students Jeannine Ortega and Kristy Cherry-Randle have launched an anti-racist, decolonial reading group. The aim of the monthly meetings is to provide an informal forum for discussions of short texts that imagine anti-racist and decolonial alternatives to the status quo.

To provide structure initially, the three organizers will select short texts, distribute them electronically, and lead hour-long discussions for the first three meetings. The meetings will be held on Zoom and are open to faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and community members in Tallahassee and beyond.

English department graduate students in all three programs can receive one hour of credit for participating in the reading group, which is listed as ENG 5998-0011 with Dr. Ribó as the instructor of record. There is, however, no need to sign up for the one-hour course to participate in the reading group.

The first meeting was Thursday, August 27, and Dr. Ribó led a discussion of Christina Sharpe’s short essay “Lose Your Kin” from The New Inquiry, available here. If you are interested in attending, please contact one of the organizers for the Zoom invitation and access to the reading group’s Canvas site. Dr. Ribó's email address can be found on his faculty page. Also feel free to spread the word to students, colleagues, or anyone else who might be interested.

> FSU Assistant Professor L. Lamar Wilson, a 2001 Florida A&M alumnus who returned to Tallahassee in the fall of 2020 to join FSU's English department faculty, collaborated with Rada Film Group as an associate producer and lead subject for the award-winning film The Changing Same, (PBS/POV Short, 2019), which centers Wilson's Pushcart-nominated poem “Resurrection Sunday” and portends the uprisings against white supremacist violence that have erupted around the globe.

The Changing Same revisits Wilson's annual half-marathon for a 1934 lynching victim in his Florida Panhandle hometown of Marianna, just 65 miles west of the Big Bend, from the POV of four participants. The film inspired an episode of the NPR podcast “Code Switch” titled “A Strange And Bitter Crop.” The episode features journalist Ben Montgomery, a participant who's not on-screen, as he recounts how he came to report on the spectacle killing of Claude Neal that drew thousands to the town, learned of Lamar's run, and felt compelled to accompany him.

You also can hear Lamar discuss the film, his 2017 stage production The Gospel Truth, and his 2013 debut collection Sacrilegion with Tom Flanagan on WFSU.

Please listen to and read this NPR interview with English Associate Professor Alisha Gaines titled "Code Switch: The Limits of Empathy."

Other publications by Alisha Gaines: Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy

> Please read English Assistant Professor Ravi Howard's June 12, 2020 essay in The Article

Other publications by Ravi Howard: Like Trees, Walking; Driving the King

> Publications by Professor Maxine Montgomery: New Critical Essays on Toni Morrison's God Help the Child: Race, Culture, and History;

Contested Boundaries: New Critical Essays on the Fiction of Toni Morrison; The Fiction of Gloria Naylor: Houses and Spaces of Resistance

 

Statements

Letter to FSU's Black Students from Black Faculty: click here

Letter to FSU's Black Students, Staff, and Faculty from Latinx Faculty: click here

American Studies Association, President's Statement on Black Lives Matter and the Rebellion of 2020

Modern Language Association statement

 

Other Resources

> Black Thought and Culture database: FSU Libraries has acquired the database through a one-time for all-time purchase, making it a permanent addition to our database resources. Click on the link to browse the Search engine. Read English alumna Faith Matson's article "Faculty members laud new FSU Library databases"

> Meet the Brave but Overlooked Women of Color Who Fought for the Vote—article in The New York Times

> The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

> Soujourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman?—Speech

> English Department staff members submitted this “Staff Picks” watch list, movies and documentaries related to and concerning racial issues.

> Honor the culture, sites, and stories of African Americans: Leon County invites residents and visitors to explore the places and people whose courage and vision have made significant contributions to our region, both past and present. To find more information before visiting and a complete list of Black heritage sites to guide your journey, click here.

Nic Stone, author of the best-selling young adult novel Dear Martin, explains why your anti-racist reading lists aren’t enough. Read "Don’t Just Read About Racism—Read Stories About Black People Living" here.

> Florida State University and Florida A&M University alumna and current Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of History at Florida Memorial University Tameka Bradley Hobbs: Democracy Abroad, Lynching at Home: Racial Violence in Florida

Please listen to Dr. Bradley Hobbs’ June 4, 2020, lecture in which she contextualizes her book.

Daniel R. Weinfeld, graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Law, currently an attorney in New York City: The Jackson County War: Reconstruction and Resistance in Post–Civil War Florida and After War Times: An African American Childhood in Reconstruction-Era Florida (editor)

"These books are important texts for anyone who wants to understand the machinations in and around Tallahassee from Reconstruction to the worst periods of Jim Crow,” English Assistant Professor L. Lamar Wilson says. “Although Weinfeld focuses on Jackson County in his first book, his second traces Marianna native T. (Timothy) Thomas Fortune’s journey to Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and ultimately New York, where he’d flee Reconstruction violence to help shape the public correspondence and journalistic work of movements led by Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey. Many of Tallahassee’s power players pop up throughout all of these books.”

One of the earliest instances of grassroots student activism during the civil rights movement occurred in Tallahassee and was led by Quincy native Patricia Stephens Due and other FAMU students. Patricia’s daughter, Tananarive Due, has recounted their 1960 efforts in Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights

Please read Spring of 2020 English department graduate Sabine Nemours' June 16 essay at Medium. Sabine won the department's 2020 Fred L. Standley Award for Outstanding English Undergraduate Career.

FSU Library recommended reading list: click here.

Antiracist resources for your 2020-2021 teaching, compiled by the MLA

You May Be Your Black Colleagues’ Amy Cooper

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Visit Tallahassee: Explore visual representations of black history and black culture through Visit Tallahassee's photo gallery. Click here for information.

 

Collaborative Voices: A Gathering With FAMU's and FSU's English departments

Professors, graduate students, undergraduate students, authors, and others from the Tallahassee community came together for a very special event -- an inter-departmental get-together with Florida A&M University and Florida State University. The event featured FSU English Professor David Kirby and FAMU Visiting Professor of English Yolanda J. Franklin (both pictured above), who read from their recent publications, Get Up, Please and Blood Vinyls, respectivelyFranklin earned her Ph.D. from FSU in 2017.

This event was the first of what is scheduled as an annual gathering, intended to foster a spirit of inter-departmental collegiality between Tallahassee’s two sister institutions. 

Please click here for more information about FAMU's Department of English.