Spring NSO Racial Justice Panel: “Confronting Racism”

On May 31, 2020, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia issued a statement entitled “Confronting Racism” His statement responded to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and situated the aforementioned deaths within a history of racial violence. As our University Mission Statement reads, in part, “Established in 1789 in the spirit of the new republic, the university was founded on the principle that serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs promotes intellectual, ethical and spiritual understanding. We embody this principle in the diversity of our students, faculty and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness and our international character.”

Through President DeGioia’s leadership, Georgetown University has committed to enacting racial justice as a part of its overall pursuit of the common good. Georgetown’s Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Working Group has led to our reckoning with how the legacies of enslavement shape the University and our society as a whole. The killings that unfolded this summer, as well as health inequities made apparent in the COVID-19 pandemic, and countless other instances of racial injustice in the United States, remind us of the founding history of racism in the United States and the ongoing necessity for racial justice work. This session seeks to introduce and invite you to participate in this work. 

On January 22, 2021, during New Student Orientation, NSO will host a conversation among faculty and administrators discussing the readings at the end of this page. Following the conversation, you will participate in a breakout discussion with your Orientation group, facilitated by your Orientation Advisor, to further the conversation. In anticipation of the discussion on January 22, please read the required materials at the end of this page and consider the questions for reflection below.  Also included is a list of optional supplemental reading if you would like to learn more.

  • When you consider individual responsibility for dismantling racism, what behaviors might you employ as a Hoya this semester?
  • In what ways has systemic racism in healthcare disproportionally impacted communities of color during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • In his article of June 1, Fr. Bryan N. Massingale asserts, “The fundamental assumption behind all the others [in the scenario he sets out] is that white people matter, or should matter, more than people of color. Certainly more than black people. That black lives don’t matter, or at least not as much as white lives.”  He asserts that white people in particular maintain this assumption because they are taught to do so through education.  In your own education, have there been ways in which you were taught to maintain this fundamental assumption, and have there been instances in which this assumption was challenged or shown to be wrong — to be racist and unjust?   As you answer these questions, can you produce specific instances when the assumption that “white people matter more than people of color” was conveyed to you as a student, and when it was revealed as racist and unjust?   Reflect on your own role in upholding these assumptions and how you could have acted differently.
  • In the clip of Toni Morrison’s interview with Charlie Rose, she expresses surprise at the restraint Black community members showed in response to the beating of Rodney King, a Black man, by officers of the Los Angeles police department. What is a just response to racialized violence? How should community members respond to redress racialized violence?   

Required Content

Access the four pieces of required content through Box by clicking here.

Speakers at the Racial Justice Panel

During the Racial Justice Panel, you will hear from the following speakers from the Georgetown University community:

President DeGioia: John J. DeGioia is the 48th President of Georgetown University.  For nearly four decades, Dr. DeGioia has worked to define and strengthen Georgetown University as a premier institution for education and research.  

A graduate of Georgetown, Dr. DeGioia served as a senior administrator and as a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy before becoming president on July 1, 2001.  He continues to teach an Ignatius Seminar each fall, which is part of a program offering first year students the opportunity to encounter unique courses of study inspired by the Jesuit educational theme of cura personalis (“care for the whole person”).

Rosemary Kilkenny, JD., Georgetown University’s inaugural Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, was appointed to this position effective April 1, 2006 by John J. DeGioia, PhD., President. He added the Chief Diversity Officer designation to her portfolio in March 2019. She supervises the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action and the Title IX Office whose areas cover the Main Campus, Medical Center, Law Center and the School of Foreign Service based in Doha.

Dr. Adanna Johson: Dr. Adanna J. Johnson serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Equity and Inclusion and leads the Office of Student Equity and Inclusion (OSEI) at Georgetown University. OSEI is an umbrella office for the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, the Community Scholars Program, and the Georgetown Scholars Program. In her role, Dr. Johnson provides leadership for a broad range of work focused on student access and success, diversity and inclusion work with students, consults with schools and units across the institution, and contributes to Georgetown’s work with the American Talent Initiative.

Dr. Christopher King: Christopher King is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Systems Administration. Board certified in healthcare management, his work illuminates how structural/institutional racism, community dynamics, and healthcare norms contribute to racial differences in health outcomes. 

Dr. Angelyn Mitchell: Associate Professor of English and African American Studies; Founding Director, African American Studies Program, 2003-2013

Dr. Angelyn Mitchell is an associate professor in the Departments of English and African American Studies. Her teaching and research interests are in African American literary and cultural studies, African American Studies, race and representation, race and politics, African American music, African American history, slavery in the US, the American South, contemporary black women writers; gender and racial politics, Black Feminist Theory, Women’s and Gender studies, and American Studies. She is a recipient of the Georgetown College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2015).