July 1, 2020
Dear Friends of ACETA,
Like so many of you, we, the Steering Committee of the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama, are shocked by the killing of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of the police.
Mr. Floyd’s death has led to renewed protests against police brutality and against the systemic racism that affects so many; it is important that organizations like ours take this moment to declare publicly a commitment to justice and equity for all even when it threatens or goes against the very ideals we are accustomed.
This letter is our declaration.
Equity is not about handouts or a handout. Equity is not even about assisting the helpful or negating the helpless. Equity is making sure that everyone has the same opportunity of living a life and pursuing happiness.
Consider this visual: Three little boys attempt to see over a high fence. Obviously, they all have height challenges as the fence is too tall. But they are also of varying heights. Equality would be giving them a block of the same height, width, and number. Equity would require the addition of the little boys’ heights to be factored in; one boy might require 1 additional block, another 2 additional blocks, and the third an additional 3 blocks so that they all are able to see over the fence.
At the beginning of June, our parent organization, The National Council of Teachers of English, published a statement denouncing “all forms of racial violence and brutality.” The letter goes on to encourage members to be the makers of change in their own classrooms by promoting equity in the classroom. We encourage you to read this letter in full here.
Alabama is no stranger to protests agitating for racial equality … Alabama educators are in a unique position to lead in this moment as we examine the systems and places where we teach and learn. Several of our institutional members, including Jacksonville State University and the University of Alabama, are in talks to rename buildings and remove plaques and statues that commemorate the Confederacy and its legacy.
We encourage you, our members, to speak with your colleagues and your students about the issues affecting your campus communities. Where and when possible, we can foster dialogues between administrators, campus police, and the student body.
As educators in the humanities, we should, in the words of NCTE, “apply the power of language and literacy to actively pursue justice and equity for all students and the educators who serve them.” As we go back to our classrooms (either virtual or face-to-face) this summer or plan our syllabi for the fall, we need to take advantage of the wealth of resources available through NCTE and our home institutions to incorporate and promote the works and views of writers of color – both past and especially present in our teaching as Black history is world history and is ever present today.
In the coming weeks, ACETA will be adding a page devoted to anti-racism resources to our website. We would love to hear from you. Tell us what sources you have found helpful in thinking and talking about racism; you can connect with us through our Facebook page and through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can create real and lasting change through our commitment to education for all.
ACETA Steering Committee Officers
- Anissa Graham, President, Senior Lecturer in English, University of North Alabama
- Pamela Horn, Vice-President, English Instructor, Southern Union State Community College
- Ashley Kitchens, Executive Secretary, Associate Dean and English Instructor, Jefferson State Community College
- Kiietti Walker-Parker, NCTE Liaison, English Instructor, Alabama A & M University
- Rebecca Duncan, Immediate Past President, Chair Humanities and Fine Arts Department and English Instructor, Lawson State Community College
Steering Committee Members-at-Large:
- Eric Sterling, Director of Master of Liberal Arts Program and English Instructor, Auburn University at Montgomery
- Judith Hayes, English Instructor, Alabama A&M University
- Jamie King, English Instructor, Jefferson State Community College
- Christy Hutcheson, English Instructor, Lurleen B. Wallace Community College
- Donovan Cleckley, Emerging Scholar, Graduate Student in English, Tulane University, University of Montevallo alumnus