The NC State College of Education is committed to becoming an anti-racist college. In line with this commitment, Pack IDEAs newsletters provide resources for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. The past year has probably been the most stressful time many of us have experienced thus far in our lives. On top of the regular stress of daily life, we are dealing with a pandemic and horrific acts of violence and the unjust murders of people of color. In response, we have been called to action – to fight for justice for everyone in America.
Doing anti-racist work in education and society is exhausting, in part because of the resistance experienced in response to social change. William Smith, a nationally recognized critical race theorist, coined the term “racial battle fatigue” to describe race-related stress that results from microaggressions experienced by people of color (often layered with gender, class, sexuality, language, etc.) on a regular basis. Racial microaggressions are defined as subtle, conscious (or subconscious) verbal and nonverbal insults, put-downs and other forms of stigmatizations directed towards people with marginalized identities. Moreover, microaggressions cause harm to people of color and marginalized populations while privileging white people and dominant identities.
In addition to the psychological warfare aspects of racial battle fatigue are the psychophysiological symptoms that are harmful to the body. These include anxiety, depression and other forms of physical strain such as increased heart rate that can lead to high blood pressure.
April is Stress Awareness Month. This month’s newsletter highlights a unique kind of stress (racial battle fatigue) that is not often discussed or realized. Doing anti-racist work requires that we also practice self care. In the words of Audre Lorde, “Self care is an act of self preservation and political warfare.” We encourage you to reflect on how you will be intentional about taking care of yourself and others while engaging in justice work.
6 Strategies for Self Care During Difficult Times and Racial Trauma
- Get 8 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep helps boost our immune systems and reduces stress. Sleep also enhances patience, focus and mood; reduces irritability and promotes overall emotional health. Sleep deprivation can make our bodies more sensitive to stressors, which can be harmful over time.
- Exercise. Just 30 minutes a day keeps the stress away. The benefits of exercise are well known, including the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) that help you focus and sleep better. Exercising decreases the risk of mood disorders and increases your energy. Exercise does not have to be rigorous. A 30-minute walk outside counts and will go a long way toward reducing stress.
- Deep Breathing. Throughout the day, we experience all kinds of stressful situations. For example, when we experience a microaggression or receive news that is not ideal, many of us are unaware of how our physical body responds. Increased heart rate, chest tightness, stiffened neck, increased breathing, etc. Deep breathing helps slow down the nervous system, which helps us return to a normal heart rate and reduce tightness/tension in the body. Many smartphones have breathing apps. It only takes a minute or so to practice and receive the benefits from deep breathing, and it’s something you can easily do throughout the day.
- Meditate. Meditation practices help quiet the mind, reduce stress, ease anxiety and slow down negative thinking. You do not need any special equipment to meditate and you can do it anytime, anywhere and for any length of time. Due to the growing popularity of meditation as a regular practice, there are apps for guided meditation. Yoga is an ancient practice that involves meditative practices in combination with flexibility exercises.
- Be honest with yourself and others. When or if you experience a microaggression, be honest about what you’re feeling. Recognize how the experience is affecting you psychologically and physically, and seek appropriate help. It’s important to build and have communities of support for times like this. Confiding in a trusted colleague or friend to share how you’re feeling emotionally can be extremely helpful. Such people and communities can serve as thought partners to help you figure out the best way to respond to the situation and help you identify additional resources for support. Also, take advantage of counseling services on campus. Talking with a professional about what you are experiencing can be invaluable. Further, trained counselors can offer healthy coping strategies and additional resources.
- Healing. The cumulative impact of racial trauma is detrimental to success and overall well-being, particularly for people of color. It is not enough to encourage people to engage in coping strategies alone. Coping strategies are useful, but they do not solve the root of the problem. We can no longer afford to place Band-Aids on problems that call for healing. Healing requires that we do the hard, introspective and reflective work within ourselves. We have to find the courage to unlearn and relearn what it means to live in this country without privilege, so that all people can experience the promise upon which this country was founded – liberty and justice for all.
Source: “Strategies for Practicing Self-Care from Racial Battle Fatigue” by Stephen John Quaye, Shamika N. Karikari, Courtney Rashad Allen, Wilson Kwamogi Okello, and Kiaya Demere Carter and published in the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity
STUDENT AND FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS
In each newsletter, we highlight faculty, students and alumni who have expertise and experiences that align with advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the college. In becoming an anti-racist college community, we must deepen our commitment to creating and sustaining a healthy teaching and learning community that uplifts the humanity of all people, but especially Black, Indigenous and people of color who, due to structural inequities, are marginalized in education and society. The spotlight feature of this newsletter offers a counternarrative that celebrates and showcases the brilliance of individuals within our college community.
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CARANDA SHUBRICK ’24PHD
Caranda Shubrick ’24PHD
Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development in the higher education program area of study
What is your current role in the NC State College of Education? I am a first-year doctoral student in the higher education program area of study. I also serve as the graduate research assistant for the College of Education Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.
How do you practice wellness while engaging in the work of diversity, equity and inclusion in education? My Christian faith, which is steeped in womanist ecclesiology and Black liberation theology, is foundational along with the African philosophy of Ubuntu: I am because we are. Daily, I intentionally devote time for prayer, meditation and reflection, and incorporate elements such as bells, essential oils, and 17th and 18th century classical music. Additionally, engaging in the therapeutic process and life-coaching over the last 15-plus years provides the framework, strategies and safe spaces to reveal, understand, embrace and celebrate myself holistically. My spiritual beliefs and practices, community and life-giving relationships undergird my actions, perspectives and interactions with others as I engage in diversity, equity, inclusion and justice work in education and society at large.
Are there community projects and/or initiatives you are involved in that are related to diversity, equity and inclusion? If so, tell me about those projects. I serve as the campaign director for the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC CRED). There are 42 Confederate monuments across North Carolina on courthouse grounds. The goal of the campaign is to remove all Confederate monuments.
FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: LISA BASS, PH.D.
Lisa Bass, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development
How long have you been a faculty member at NC State? Since 2012
Why are issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in education important to you? Because diversity is the present reality, and will only increase in the future. Also, addressing issues of equity, equality and inclusion mark our best opportunity toward equality. When we work to find out what diverse populations need in order to be successful and devote our work toward meeting those needs, then diverse populations will begin to perform to their potential, and we will one day see equality. Especially if we do not stop until we have worked to meet all of the different needs. We must internalize the notion that differences in performance occur because of differences in opportunities, which are often based upon the diversity presented in our classrooms. I believe that as educators, it is our responsibility to adjust our own delivery to accommodate all students — even if that means different treatment based upon diversity. The difference in treatment will serve to level the playing field for students as the needs of students who have been historically neglected are met.
Are you currently conducting research around the area of diversity, equity and inclusion? If so, tell me a little about your research. I am currently writing a paper on research I conducted where I looked at the performance and backgrounds of exemplary principals. In this research, I asked principals who had won the Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Award how they had been trained, and about their orientation towards equity. I am also working on a grant application where I intend to study equity and diversity of principal pipelines.
What are you hoping to accomplish as a result of your research, and how do you expect it to impact the field of education and learners? I hope to inform leadership preparation programs and policy makers of the importance of equitable practices in educational leadership, as well as in the educational leadership pipelines nationally. Equity in schools starts with leadership, so I hope to provide empirical data that adds to the current body of work on equitable leadership, that will work together to make a difference in leadership policy, training and practice.
Are there community projects and/or initiatives you are involved in that are related to diversity, equity and inclusion? Tell me about those projects. I am part of the Flood Group, whose central purpose is to improve educational opportunities for Wake County students. This organization engages in projects and initiatives that promote equality through equitable practices. Examples are tutoring programs, book drives and book giveaways. The Flood Group also does parent training for disadvantaged parents and provides them with information that empowers them to better partner with schools and school districts.
What do you hope to teach future educators and scholar-leaders about equity and inclusion in education? How do you incorporate that into your instruction and curriculum? I hope to teach future educators and scholar-leaders first, what equity really is. I hope to clarify definitions that trouble people and that set more advantaged people on edge. I hope to demonstrate that equity is fairness, not taking anything away from anyone, and that all students are equally deserving, regardless of where they come from. That we all need equitable treatment (grace), in some way or another. That just because we were born with more, or have access to more, doesn’t mean we deserve it any more than someone who was born poor. I hope to teach future teachers and educational leaders that poverty doesn’t determine worth or value… That the creator didn’t measure gifts and talents by what we have, but by what He has. There are many people who are too poor to attend school (worldwide), who have gifts and talents far greater than those who were born wealthy. Since we cannot see gifting, it is therefore our responsibility to teach all like they have been endowed with the greatest gifts ever given! We might be the only instructor who believes in students who don’t have ‘the look’ or the money that traditionally affords folks the favor necessary to be considered for opportunities that position them for educational, societal and vocational greatness.
I teach a course on diversity and equity in which I unpack the principles, definitions and practices associated with equity, and I incorporate it into my other courses through example, (how I treat students and believe in them) and also through storytelling, case studies and role plays, as appropriate.
What advice do you have for self care and wellness, particularly for people who are actively advocating for justice? I recommend that we seek to do all that we can in order to promote equitable practices to and for our students so that we can sleep well at night! I also recommend that we take some time for ourselves. Time to eat well, breathe well and deeply, and time to enjoy the things and people that we love. Hug and kiss your kids, especially while they’re still little and like it! And connecting with REAL friends who you know really care about you is golden. I mean the people who check on you and just happen to call when you really need it, and those who are dropped into your spirit for seemingly no reason — until you call and learn that you too are calling just at the right time! You need to be able to connect with and talk to someone! Also pray if you pray, and meditate if you meditate! Do both if you can. It takes all of that and then some at times! Life has been especially difficult during the COVID pandemic, but these practices are timelessly important in helping me to maintain balance.
RESOURCES FOR ADVANCING DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
For students, educators and leaders who are interested in learning more about advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and anti-racist education, here are some resources recommended by Lisa Bass, Ph.D., and doctoral student Caranda Shubrick ’24PHD, as well as other resources around racial battle fatigue, stress management and self care.
Resources recommended by Bass:
Resources recommended by Shubrick:
Resources on Racial Battle Fatigue:
- “‘Assume the Position . . . You Fit the Description:’ Psychosocial Experiences and Racial Battle Fatigue Among African American Male College Students” by William A. Smith, Walter R. Allen and Lynette L. Danley and published in the American Behavioral Scientist
- “‘You make me wanna holler and throw up both my hands!’: campus culture, Black misandric microaggressions, and racial battle fatigue” by William A. Smith, Jalil Bishop Mustaffa, Chantal M. Jones, Tommy J. Curry, and Walter R. Allen, and published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
- “Critical Race Theory, Racial Microaggressions, and Campus Racial Climate for Latina/o Undergraduates” by Tara J. Yosso, William A. Smith, Miguel Ceja, and Daniel G. Solórzano, and published in the Harvard Educational Review
Stress Management and Self Care Resources:
- NC State Wellness and Recreation encourages the NC State community to explore and grow in six elements of wellness: purpose, financial, physical, emotional, social and community
- The NC State Counseling Center empowers students, faculty and staff by offering free workshops and self-help resources to encourage a happy and healthy campus
Resources on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice:
- National Academy of Education President Gloria Ladson-Billings, Ph.D., discusses education after COVID and civil unrest during the Third Annual Don C. Locke Multiculturalism and Social Justice Symposium
- “How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research,” a study co-authored by Associate Professor Anna Egalite, Ph.D., that finds that principals have significant and broad impacts on student outcomes
- “Knowledge Construction, the Canon Debate, and the Education of Citizens in Diverse Societies,” a lecture by James A. Banks, Ph.D.
- The April 2021 edition of INSIGHT Into Diversity: Advancing the Conversation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education and Beyond
- “Our New Name: Learning for Justice,” an article by Jalaya Liles Dunn sharing why Teaching Tolerance changed its name to Learning for Justice with a goal of eradicating hate by fighting intolerance in schools, and resources on justice in schools
UPCOMING NC STATE EVENTS
Five Practices for Equity-Focused School Leadership
April 7, 2021 | 5 p.m.
Graduate students and alumni from the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development are invited to an open forum with Mark Anthony Gooden, Ph.D., to discuss his book, Five Practices for Equity-Focused Leadership. Please register online for this event.
Cultivating a Sense of Belonging in Schools and Communities
April 22, 2021 | 3 p.m.
Join the NC State College of Education community for a faculty and student forum, sponsored by the Offices of Undergraduate and Graduate Student Success and the College of Education Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, with Christy Byrd, Ph.D., and DeLeon Gray, Ph.D., on what it means to “belong,” how to develop a sense of belonging in schools and communities, and the influence of a sense of belonging on student outcomes and experiences. Register at go.ncsu.edu/cedbelongingpanel to attend or in SAGE for PGU Credit (PD 6672).
Integrating Diversity and Social Justice into Your Practice
May 5, 2021 | Noon
The TELS Diversity and Social Justice Committee invites you to join them for “Integrating Diversity and Social Justice into Your Practice,” a panel of distinguished teachers, administrators and researchers, who will share best practices and practical strategies for making your teaching more equitable, anti-racist and socially just. Participants will have the opportunity to join breakout sessions after the panel to plan individualized next steps. Register online to attend this online event.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
The Structural Racism Behind Digital Inequity
April 7, 2021 | 1 p.m.
Join the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) for its Net Inclusion 2021 Webinar Series. The series will kickoff with “The Structural Racism Behind Digital Inequity.” The one-hour webinar will include an additional 30-minute wrap-up for conversation and Q&A with panelists and fellow participants. Register to attend this free, online event.
Confronting and Combating Anti-Asian Sentiment in K-12 Education
April 7, 2021 | 1 p.m.
A panel discussion, sponsored by The Samuel D. Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice at Rutgers University, around the factors that contribute to the Anti-Asian sentiment and how these issues have impacted educators, parents and students alike. Panelists will also talk through some potential interventions for improving experiences of Asian Americans both in and out of the classroom. Register online to attend this free event.
OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY
As a land-grant institution, NC State’s College of Education has long been focused on advancing equity and increasing opportunities for success in education. In fact, our mission states that “our inquiry and practice reflects a commitment to social justice and the value of diversity in a global society.” We carry out that mission through the extraordinary educators we prepare, the transformational research we conduct and the life-changing outreach we provide. Check out some of the ways we are working to build more equitable, inclusive and supportive schools, colleges and communities where every learner has the opportunity to thrive
PROVIDE YOUR IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS
As we continue our work toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the college, the task force would love to hear from you. Please submit your ideas, suggestions, and feedback for what you’d like to see and experience for your growth and development, as well as what the college should focus on to improve the culture and climate.