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The mission of the Institute for Women's Studies and Services is to serve as a feminist hub for transformative education, programming and advocacy on issues of gender and social equity.  


Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the racist, lethal attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  For those of us who pray, our prayers are with them, too.

And.  That’s not enough.  It’s not enough to pray and to feel heartbroken, yet again.  We must not only condemn systematic racial oppression in this country—which, in the last two years, has given the lie to the idea that since the election of President Obama, we live in a post-racial America—we must also actively work against it.  We must stand in solidarity, all of us, and proclaim with our actions, not just our words, that we will not stand for this.  It is time for this country to admit the fact that racism, from the daily microaggressions to blatant racial hatred, still infiltrates and informs every aspect of our lives, and then do the hard, dirty work of dismantling these oppressive, systemic structures.

What can we do?  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  So many organizations are doing such powerful work in this country, staffed by so many hard-working people dedicated to advancing the civil rights of people of color.  We can show up at our local branches of these organizations and say, “I want to do this work with you.  What can I do?”  (Click here and here for links to civil rights organizations.)  We can write letters, donate money, attend marches and vigils.  We can speak out not only when an individual says or does something racist, but also when we see instances of institutionalized racism—for example, when police repeatedly kill unarmed Black people and Latinas/os, and are subsequently—and again, repeatedly—exonerated.

We can also educate ourselves about racial oppression and the history of racism in the United States.  Below are some books that I recommend; or, you can ask that friend of yours who is a Women’s Studies major or minor, or a Chican@ Studies major or minor, or an Africana Studies major or minor, what books they would recommend.  This is important for all of us, not just for white people.  As a woman of color, I have found that decolonizing my own mind and throwing off the shackles of internalized racism is a daily battle, but one worth fighting.  Call out media that vilifies or degrades people of color (and as we all know, that might be 98% of what you see on TV, the internet, or in movies). Write a blog, or a Facebook post about what you are learning.

And, if you are white, listen.  Really listen.  When people of color say something about race, really listen.  We are giving you a gift; we are sharing something with you that is deeply personal and that makes us extremely vulnerable.  We are trusting you with our hearts.  Really listen, and fight those urges to get defensive. Don't think about what your reply is going to be.  Just listen.  And believe that what we're saying is valid and important.  Let us know that our trust in you is well-placed.

Charleston, our hearts go out to you.

                                                                                              - Stephanie Martin Shewfelt, Associate Director                                                                                                                                                  on behalf of the Institute for Women’s Studies and Services 

Book recommendations: 

Ain’t I a Woman—bell hooks 

White Like Me—Tim Wise 

Everyday Antiracism—Mica Pollock (editor) 

Women, Race, and Class—Angela Davis 

Borderlands: La Frontera—Gloria Anzaldúa 

Racism without Racists—Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

There Is a River—Vincent Harding‌ 

 Institute Partners

Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking
American Association of University Women
Southwest Institute for Research on Women
National Women's Studies Association


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