MGA’s School of Arts & Letters Kick Starts University Discussions on Racial Justice

Author: Alexandria Brooks
Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 12:00 AM
Categories: Pressroom | Students | Faculty/Staff | School of Arts and Letters

Macon, GA

L-R Alison Nooks, Dr. LaVette Burnette, and Dr. Andre Nicholson.

Middle Georgia State University’s School of Arts & Letters is hosting a Collective Action Series to candidly explore, discuss, and combat racial issues.  

In the wake of the violent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and in response to the wave of social movements and protests, the School of Arts & Letters (SOAL) took a stand and created a series in support of the ongoing fight to end racial injustices suffered by Black individuals and their communities.     

The School of Arts and Letters is home to some of MGA’s most creative academic departments, counting culture, diversity, and serving the community among its core strengths.  Dr. Mary Wearn, the school’s dean, felt as though there was no better place for such empowering change to blossom than  SOAL,  as its values make it “well situated to serve as a campus leader in shaping our University’s response to a national legacy of racism that has been so painfully expressed in recent days in our nation.”  

With those values in mind, Wearn called a SOAL town hall meeting to order.     

“I asked faculty and staff  to explore and discuss  programmatic, curricular, support, and organizational interventions we might make as a school to help heal, give voice, educate, and combat the structural racism and inequity that had led to such grief in our state and country,” she said. “The ‘SOAL Collective Action Series’ was the first fruits of that meeting.”     

The brainchild  of Dr. LaVette Burnette and Dr. Andre Nicholson,  both  New Media and Communications associate professors ,   as well as Alison Nooks, online academic program coordinator, the SOAL Collective is creating an open dialogue and examining ways in which the campus community will lead the charge on antiracism in alignment with MGA’s core values while honoring President Christopher Blake’s message on racial injustice .    

“As faculty and staff, we occupy a unique position to foster an atmosphere  of equality and inclusivity for  our students by leading the charge and being willing to have the tough conversations,” Burnette said. “The events we’ve organized are meant to line up with Middle Georgia State’s values of stewardship, adaptability, engagement, and learning during this racially charged time.”  

The first event is a faculty/staff discussion via Microsoft Teams of  Ibram  X Kendi’s book,  How  to be an Antiracist . Participants will meet each Thursday for five weeks beginning July 30 , at 3:30 p.m.,  to discuss the book, which aims to  reimagine how people approach racism and how to challenge racial ideals, actions, and thoughts.*    

A panel conversation titled  Lived Experiences: A Discussion on Race, Diversity and Inequality  will take place on September 17. The discussion will be open to students, faculty, and staff.  

“The panel will share instances and the impact of racial inequality within and outside of the academy,” Burnette said. “We will offer a candid dialogue and space for panelists, co-moderators, and participants to engage in our lived experiences to better understand our collective experience.”  

Additional SOAL Collective Action Series events will be scheduled throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Among other ideas, series organizers are hoping to host a  screening and discussion of Good Trouble, a new documentary about U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a key figure in the Civil Rights movement. Lewis previewed and gave his blessing to the movie before his death from pancreatic cancer on July 17.   

Wearn praises her SOAL family for imagining and implementing such a “fruitful pathway” for education and development among faculty, staff, and students. She hopes future events continue to “spark discussion, open minds, and foster healthy community relations on our campuses and beyond.”     


*MGA FACULTY & STAFF WHO WOULD LIKE TO JOIN TH IS  SERIES:  In order to join the series via Microsoft TEAMS, log in using your MGA credentials.  Then, click the "Teams" tab and enter CODE  xm0ycay  or  email  to be added to the Teams group. If you miss the first session you can take part in any of the subsequent sessions.