The deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown brought increased attention to racial justice and police conduct issues in college classrooms. But many CUNY faculty who wrote to Clarion said that these topics shouldn’t be only discussed when they’re hot-button issues on the news.
“The lives of CUNY students are structured by racism (as are the lives of all of us living in New York City),” Tony Alessandrini, associate professor of English at Kingsborough Community College, told Clarion. “It deserves to become a fundamental topic of analysis in their studies as well.”
Near the end of the fall semester, the Mentoring Future Faculty of Color Project at the CUNY Graduate Center helped organize an event on “Teaching Black Lives Matter.”
Panelists spoke about how they’ve talked about race in their own classrooms. (Minutes from that discussion can be found here.) CUNY faculty and staff at the event have begun creating a collaborative syllabus.
In interviews with Clarion, CUNY faculty cited other books, movies and websites that have worked in their own classrooms. Brooklyn College Associate Professor Alex Vitale shared a list of books that help students better understand forms of mass criminalization, like stop-and-frisk and “broken windows” policing. Franklin Siegel at CUNY Law School pointed to a list of fact sheets put together by Columbia Law School on the St. Louis and Richmond County grand jury decisions to not indict in the police killings of Garner and Brown. Blanca Vazquez, adjunct assistant professor of film and media studies at Hunter College, said that last semester she showed the documentary Every Mother’s Son, co-directed by Tami Gold, a documentary filmmaker who is also a faculty member at Hunter. The movie looks at the police killings of three New Yorkers and their three mothers, who united to press for social change.
If you have resources that you’d like to share, you can update the collaborative syllabus here.