By, Chrisel Martinez– Chair, Equity and Inclusion Committee
The first weekend of November, five members of the SUNY Student Assembly: (President, Tom Mastro, Chief of Staff Marc Cohen, Director of Student Success, Nick Butler, Chair, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Chrisel M, and SUNY Cortland Student Representative Emily Missavages.) Where invited to attend a Racial Equity Get REAL training hosted by Net impact, a leading nonprofit that empowers a new generation to use their careers to drive transformational change in the workplace and the world. The conference consisted of activities, lectures and strategy planning geared towards Social Justice and Racial Equity within Society. The presenters came together from different institutes within the United States such as the Racial Equity Institute and True Blue Company. Ideals such as “Socioeconomic status differences not explaining racial disparities, and “If one group internalizes inferiority, than someone internalizes superiority” where discussed throughout the training session. The 2 day conference then concluded with strategy session on discussing and fully achieving diversity within our campuses. We also received a super hero diagram with different ways to be a racial transformer. The diagram highlighted an open mind which allows to learn about others histories, aspirations and making conscious choices that prioritize racial equity and inclusion, and even having a smart phone: in order to inform and activate your networks-blogs, share, tweet, comment, and post prolifically about race issues and actions. Based off of the number of ideals, and strategies received from attending Net Impacts Get Real training, the SUNY SA members, and the committee of Equity and Inclusion are better equipped in working on a more equitable SUNY, in all facets of diversity and inclusion.
For me personally, this conference was exactly what I need in my life. Upon entering college I was emerged in an enviroment that was fully accepted of those from diverse backgrounds. From taking Latin American Studies, and Africana studies courses I was able to receive the oppurtunity to enhance my educational backgrounds in regards to my personal ethnicity and race. Serving as the Director of Multicultural Affairs, within the Student Association at the University at Albany, allowed for my experience with multiculturalism to be sparked. As I continued in my route within diversity and Inclusion, I was appointed Chair of Equity and Inclusion, within the SUNY Student Assembly, and from there I was able to combine my passion with multiculturalism and my wilingness to help those who do not feel properly represented within their academic setting. Net impact had contacted me, and shared their goals and ideas for their company which aligned with the strong interest and goals in which SUNY had towards equity and inclusion. We then where invited and sponsored to attend their Get REAL trainng. The Net impact conference Get REAL training, allowed for us to question our ideas on systematic racism,internalized oppression and many other topics towards racial equity. Although many left the sessions upset or bothered by certain statements that were said, I have learned that when discussing topics around racism it is okay to get uncomfortable. The goal is about having these uncomfortable conversations, to make students who are the future of this society, more confident when discussiong topics of racial equity. One of the strongest pointers that I was able to leave with was that In order to find a treatment we have to diagnose it. When diagnosing the issue of racism we had to look back into history. We engaged in an activity and listed historical racial milestones, the concept behind this activity was if we don’t understand how we got here, we won’t understand how to deal with issues we are facing today. We discussed whether we have progressed, or regressed in terms of racial equity as a society. After an in depth analysis of society in aspects of education, criminal justice, health, and birth rates, Whites seemed to be on top for all of these facets, meanwhile blacks where below on the charts, and latinos in between both groups in certain aspects. The conclusion was then made that racism is perceived to be a system of advantages for whites through government, legislature, cultural “norms” and representaion in media. Which brought to question if those who are on top today, actually deserved it, or are they repping the benefuts of systematic and institutional racism.
We all left Seattle that weekend as racial transformers, with the goal to combat racial inequity one day at a time. This training couldn’t have been scheuduled at a better time, especially with the number of racial issues that had been occuring with the University of Missouri.Thankfully Net Impact was able prepare students and provide company resources at their Get REAL training to properly handle racial equity topics. Very thankful for Net Impact in sponsoring our trip to Seattle, and allowing 11 SUNY students serve as racial transformers within todays society when the racial transformation is needed most. I am very blessed and thankful for being able to get more preparation in achieving my goals of creating a more equitable SUNY.