December 12, 2020

A revolving display in Fisher Hall celebrates the ways in which English and creative writing faculty at Susquehanna are keeping issues of racial justice at the forefront.

“We conceived this initiative as a way of educating our various audiences in the way English programs are uniquely suited to address violence, racism and structural inequality,” said Drew Hubbell, associate professor of English. “Oppressed people have always turned to literacy to raise awareness, change the way we see each other, and work toward justice. We thought our monthly displays would be timely contributions to our collective ‘journey toward anti-racism.’”

October’s display included a local response to an issue of national importance, the Breonna Taylor case, in the form of a poem written by a faculty member as well as quotes that suggest ways to do antiracist work. The contributions of women of color in the political fight for social justice were highlighted on the rest of the board: it showcased four women of color whose contributions to the suffragist cause have been overlooked until recently and a poster of the suffrage play foregrounding the same issue, co-written by Monica Prince, assistant professor of English and creative writing, and Anna Andes, associate professor of theatre and women’s studies coordinator.

“The connection is subtle, but I think clear: if you want justice, getting involved in the larger political workings of our society is one way,” Rachana Sachdev, associate professor of English, said.

The November board focuses on the issue of linguistic justice.

Russ-Ahna Davenport ’22, who is studying creative writing and computer science, is assisting the department with its anti-racism work. Davenport is from Philadelphia.

“I think in higher education, students and educators have a responsibility to ensure every student learns in a comfortable way, every student learns how to express themselves honestly and in their own voice, and that every student knows that here they will be heard,” Davenport said. “I think anti-racism work in education from department to department and in every aspect of this college experience is essential because if we cannot be ourselves and still be educated … without losing or harming some integral element of who we are, then really, how could it be worth it?”

The process of choosing the pieces varies every month, Sachdev said, but the principle remains the same – highlight the ways in which English and creative writing faculty are keeping issues of racial justice front and center.

“It is also an attempt to carry on at the local level the educational process that we see happening at the national and global level regarding race,” Sachdev said.

The display can be viewed on the second floor at the rear of Fisher Hall.