2020 brought with it countless challenges and changes. COVID-19 spread around the world and altered almost every aspect of life, while society turned its focus to growing violence against the Black community.
In response to the injustices many Black Americans face and the social upheaval that ensued as these violent actions came to light, the Race, Equity, and Wellbeing (REW) series was founded in summer 2020 as a collaboration between the USC Office of Campus Wellbeing and Education and University Human Resources, Equity, and Compliance.
The REW series serves as a forum for the USC community to have necessary conversations about race and inequitable systems and explore tangible ways to build resilience and commitment to bringing about positive change at USC. The sessions – which have been attended by more than 2,000 staff and faculty to date – would not have been possible without the dedication of the hardworking team who put them together, particularly the nine facilitators.
“The facilitators are essential to the success of the REW program because they help others connect concepts and ideas with real life at USC,” explains clinical psychologist and consultant Quade French, Ph.D., who is the session moderator and part of the REW project team
“They are powerful community models that demonstrate both the complexity and power of living true to one’s values of racial equity and well-being. Their strength in character and genuine care for their colleagues is inspirational,” French adds.
Facilitator and Manager for Student Equity and Inclusion Programs Jonathan Wang, Ed.D., has enjoyed establishing a safe environment where people can be open and vulnerable: “Folks are coming into our space to find community, learn, and create a space that allows them to explore a variety of topics.”
What will the future at USC look like because of REW? “I hope that all Trojans find a sense of community in the discussion sessions and are able to gain skills and ideas from our expert panelists,” facilitator and Administrator for USC’s Department of Middle East Studies Renee Almassizadeh says. “I also hope that the insights learned from participant feedback and engagement can impact university policy around race, equity, and well-being.”
Visit the REW website to register for upcoming events and for more information about the project team, all nine facilitators, session topics, and panelists. The next session takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 12 p.m.
- Shanéa Thomas, Ed.D, LICSW
- LaVonna Lewis, Ph.D., MPH
- Anita Dashiell-Sparks
- Darline Robles, Ph.D.
- Jonathan Wang, Ed.D.
- Janice Littlejohn, MA
- Melissa Durham, Pharm.D., MACM, APh
- Renee Almassizadeh, MA
- JaBari Brown, MA