YGSNA Members Join “Race at Yale Teach-in” and Support Student Calls for Diversity and Inclusion

Professor Ned Blackhawk holding a hand drum in salute of the Yale Blue Feather Drum Group as they performed during the March of Resilience. [Photo credit: Tyler Rogers]
November 13, 2015

 On Wednesday, November 11th, YGSNA members Professor Birgit Brander Rasmussen and Dean Kelly Fayard participated in the “Race at Yale Teach-in.” Addressing an audience of over 1,000 at Battell Chapel, each joined other teach-in speakers who collectively discussed issues of social justice, ethnic studies, and racial equity on campus and beyond. Fayard (Associate Dean of Yale College and the Director of the Native American Cultural Center) provided welcoming remarks as well as recognition of the traditional indigenous territory of the Quinnipiac Nation. Brander Rasmussen (Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, & Migration) offered a presentation on the importance of Ethnic Studies curriculum while NACC member Haylee Kushi (Yale College, class of 2018) discussed the importance of cultural competency in mental health.

They - along with dozens of students, faculty, administration, and staff - focused on four main topics: valuing women of color at Yale, mental health and its impact on communities of color, addressing white and male privilege, and the importance of Ethnic Studies.

This recent teach-in comes amid broader student-led calls for racial/gender equity in higher education. On Monday, November 9th, a coalition of undergraduate students - led largely by women of color - organized a “March of Resilience” to publicly celebrate the pursuit of a more just and welcoming university. The march included speeches and performances by various students, including drumming and singing from Yale’s Blue Feather Drum Group. In response to the march and the ongoing movement for transformation, members of the Indigenous Graduate Network (IGN) and Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) issued a “Statement of Solidarity & Support” to affirm the importance of these efforts.

YGSNA looks forward to remaining involved in campus-wide endeavors to shape the academic rigor of these ongoing conversations and collaborating with students, faculty, staff, and administrators to create a better Yale.