In response to current national events, Frederick Community College (FCC) has recognized a need to address racial injustice and strengthen the college’s commitment to racial equity, inclusion, and social justice.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died on May 25th after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer’s knee in an encounter that was captured on video. Floyd died hours later after being taken into custody due to either strangulation or asphyxiation.
Floyd’s death, along with many other incidents, sparked large protests against police brutality and systemic racism in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as in more than 150 American cities in weeks and months to follow.
One of the most well-known organizations that responded is Black Lives Matter (BLM), which fights for the well-being of black people. According to the BLM website (www.blacklivesmatter.com) the mission of the organization is to, “Eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
FCC Department Chair of English and Professor Anne Hofmann recognizes this is not a new problem that the college has been addressing. Hofmann says, “Because of the recent civil unrest, FCC is making its position very clear to the community about where it stands in regards to racial injustice.”
Historically, schools have not always been welcome to diverse learners whether that be women, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, and non-traditional students. The FCC racial equity platform is redesigning its structures for a wide variety of students by filling the gaps of the past. Hofmann says, “It allows those groups of people, who have always been there, to be visible.”
Moreover, Hofmann helped coordinate the effort of writing a letter to the college’s community in regards to FCCs commitment to fighting racial injustice, where all academic department chairs signed in solidarity to the message. Included in the letter is FCCs mission statement, “To provide affordable, flexible access to lifelong education that responds to the needs of diverse learners.”
In addition, The FCC Board of Trustees has recently established their five-year strategic plan called “FCC Forward”. The plan’s core value is diversity, defined as being culturally conscious and inclusive by embracing the visible and invisible human differences that affect the learning and success of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and members of the community.
The College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan has also made the following four commitments to the institution: racial equity in access and success, strengthening the racial climate, building antiracist leadership capacity, and responsiveness.
FCC has developed a digital space of internal and external resources for the college’s community to address racial injustice together. Hofmann says, “There is so much to be done and we recognize that, the webpage is just a first step.”
Resources include official updates from college leaders, educational videos and articles, tools to take action, and opportunities to ask questions or provide feedback. The page can be accessed at the following link, Addressing Racial Injustice Together at FCC: A Call to Action.
Furthermore, there is a robust FCC Co-Curricular Calendar which provides additional programming for students. The events highlight an array of issues including racial justice and are designed to capture a variety of learners, no matter how familiar they are with the topic. The calendar can be retrieved at the following link, FCC Co-Curricular Calendar.
Although the leadership at FCC has made some great strides on combating racial injustice, there is still work to do. Hofmann says, “These problems just don’t go away because people stop protesting in the streets.”