Letter to the Editor: Words are Not Enough, We Need Action

What Mt. SAC should do to unroot systemic inequalities

The+Pomona+March+4+Education+in+Pomona+on+June+24%2C+2020.+Photo+credit%3A+Dr.+Irene+Monica+Sanchez.+

The Pomona March 4 Education in Pomona on June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Dr. Irene Monica Sanchez.

When we talk about social justice, we must acknowledge the root of injustice. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were written by wealthy, white, heterosexual, cis-gendered men whose class interest required a strong central government. In other words, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and other systems of inequity are deeply rooted at the foundation of the United States and its institutions founded thereafter.

We must acknowledge that the institution of education is an institution that has been used to continue systemic inequities. We must acknowledge that the progress made within institutions of education are a direct result of the actions and struggles led by students of color. As a result, it is not enough to simply produce a statement, for it is just words. It is not enough to take a knee, for it is simply a gesture. It is not enough to join a protest, for it is just one day of action.

Racism is systemic because of the institutions that were created to continuously benefit those with racial, class, and gender privilege. Challenging systemic inequities requires bold leadership, optimism, but most importantly and impactful – specific systemic solutions.

A few ways Mt.SAC can address the systemic inequities it reproduces as an institution of higher education are the following:

1) Institutionalize a for-credit ethnic studies graduation requirement for Mt.SAC students.

2) Institutionalize spaces for students such as Latinx and Native American centers and support programs.

3) Hire, retain, mentor and support more socially conscious Black and Native staff and faculty with support to reach tenured status.

4) Prioritize black entrepreneurs, and other entrepreneurs of color, from nearby communities and reduce restrictions to allow them to be vendors during campus sponsored events. In addition, paperwork should be reduced and support should be increasingly offered to allow entrepreneurs such as Eloteros and others to benefit economically.

5) Seek and implement alternatives to campus safety such as social workers to de-escalate conflict. On-campus police officers should not be armed. The college also needs to address the way it responded to student activists speaking up against an on-campus armed police presence. Please read this article.

6) On-campus military recruitment should cease, as recruiters take advantage of the working class status of most communities of color.

This letter was written by Fabian Pavon, Mt. SAC Alumni, re founder of MEChA de Mt. SAC, current Mt. SAC Student services Support employee and Pomona Commissioner for Parks and Recreation.