“Beyond Making Statements”

M. Gabriela Torres
Professor and Chair of Anthropology & Co-Director for Teaching and Learning
Wheaton College

Gabriela Torres is a Professor of Anthropology at Wheaton College. She is also a co-director for her college’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Gabriela’s watershed moment was at the end of Spring Break when her college decided to keep the campus closed. She found that she didn’t have many answers to questions students were asking. “I saw my students really processing something that in my own head, I hadn’t begun to process myself. It was a cognitive watershed moment.”

Before COVID19, she noted that students of color and Latinx students were graduating with “some degree of trauma” after attending college. “Having seen that year after year,” Gabriela decided it was something she needed to address. Following the murder of George Floyd, Gabriela helped call on colleagues to create a plan for action. Together, she and a team created a beginners guide for becoming anti-racist. Knowing there is an exhaustive surplus of literature available, Gabriela thought it best to launch a website that clearly organizes resources and support for faculty and staff. They put out the call, “Who wants to learn to be an anti-racist educator?” The workshop emphasized self-reflection and a commitment to action.

She asks you, “How do you want to be an anti-racist educator?” If so, she encourages you to consider the ways you teach, the resources you use, and whether or not you acknowledge historical trauma. It’s a lot to take on, but it can be done in small increments. Start with actionable, small change.

When Gabriela thinks about the future, she’s hopeful that this is the beginning of widespread, institutional change. She’s fearful that people will not vote. She urges her students and community members to engage in civic society because it does make a different.

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Show notes: 

Interview Date: 6/16/2020

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