VCU Community Engagement News

Center for Community Engagement and Impact

CEI stands in solidarity with our Richmond community, recognizing that Black lives matter.

At the VCU Center for Community Engagement and Impact (CEI), we recognize that structural and systemic racism is pervasive in our communities; and, we will not be idle in addressing it. We stand in solidarity with our Richmond community, recognizing that Black lives matter.

As we continue to champion health equity and access in response to COVID-19, we also acknowledge the devastating impact of historical and institutional racism on Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC). Ruth Wilson Gilmore defined racism as “the state-sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death.” Racism, as a public health issue, informs our work with community citizens and partners as we work to collectively dismantle systems of oppression designed to fragment communities and prevent authentic partnership and engagement.

We stand at an unprecedented crossroads, where a global health pandemic, an economic collapse, and civil unrest due to racial inequities that have historically existed in marginalized communities for generations have all collided. In this perfect storm, CEI has paused to reflect on our collective experience and expertise.

We know that we cannot truly be One VCU until we are One Richmond. CEI must be responsive to the needs of our community and show up where it matters. As bell hooks states, “If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice, and have recognition for difference without attaching difference to privilege.”

The Center for Community Engagement and Impact is VCU’s front door for community and university partnerships. As a long-standing community partner, we recognize that we must listen, learn, atone, and lead our institution towards critically assessing how VCU supports and elevates Black voices in the communities where it both occupies space and serves. We are committed to learning from the collective expertise that exists across our city and strengthening our partnerships by sharing resources for the public good.

We are committed to the following actions to deepen our understanding of racism and how to address it within our organizations and in our communities:

  • We will provide CEI faculty and staff the resources, tools, and space to understand better implicit and institutional bias and how to grow as antiracists. Training and education will be available to CEI faculty and staff beginning in August 2020 and updated on an ongoing basis.
  • We will collaborate with partners in the community to hold listening sessions to learn how to support our communities better. These will be held in community spaces and facilitated by external partners in fall 2020.
  • We will re-establish the Council for Community Engagement with a new charge to be informed by and responsive to our communities’ current and future needs. With a revitalized approach, we will include community members on the council to ensure we are uplifting community voices grounded in our commitment to equity and justice. The re-establishing process will begin by December 2020.

As James Baldwin states, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We stand ready to engage, act, and become the good neighbor each of us aspires to be.

Yours in community, solidarity and strength,

V-C-U Center for Community Engagement and Impact signature block. 

The following persons signed the signature block: 
Grace Albritton
Nannette Bailey
Erin Burke Brown
Adam Caldwell
Tina Carter
Heidi A. Crapol
Katie Elliott
Amanda F. Hall
Charles Johnson
Nerice Lochansky
Tito Luna
Stephanie G. Odera
Jenny Pedraza
Lynn Pelco
Natalie Pennywell
Michael R. Rackett
Rachel Rhoney
Jason Smith
Scott Stech
David Timberline
Categories CEI News

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