Co-Leaders Philosophy

The Journey Co-Leaders philosophy has been shaped and informed by both historical and contemporary references to the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and the intersectional identities of historically marginalized people. This philosophy is organic,fluid and may shift to adapt, evolve, or expand to amplify anti-racism efforts. Hence, there are six tenets that guide the Co-Leaders thinking and doing. Click on each tenet to learn more.

Foster a culture of deep introspection, vigilance, and corrective action. The UNL Journey on Anti-Racism and Racial Equity will remain relevant as long as we, as an institution, recognize that the system of racism that undergirded and tarnished the noble efforts to found this institution, has continued to affect the work of this institution because it is part of a nation at whose core is the effort to wrestle with the effects of racist philosophies. There is a hope for the end of racism, but for this to happen, there needs to be a culture of deep introspection, vigilance and corrective action that seeks to identify, expose,and eradicate all remnants of racism within our institution.
Engender a culture that will seek to work against racism in all that we do. The Journey is the latest of several efforts and deliberate institutional initiatives to confront the reality of racism in our university, and to engender a culture that will seek to work against such racism in all that we do. It is worth noting that a genuine accounting of the history of anti-racism on this campus will unearth a number of key landmarks, many of which can be instructive to our present. However, in this moment, the Journey emerges as a direct response to historical events that have unfolded in America in 2020.
Structure a long-term, sustainable institutional effort built to transform the core infrastructure of the institution. Unfortunately, the Journey is entering an environment that has long demanded this kind of work, and thus the Journey is an urgent proposition that the criticism, "too little too late" is hasty and premature when it comes to this university. This is why this Journey cannot be a temporary effort. It must be structured as a long-term, sustainable institutional effort built to transform the core infrastructure of the institution. We can learn from the manner in which the United States Constitution was conceived, to ensure a culture of divided power to engender democratic principles against tyranny. We will do well to seek a wise structure for the Journey that will allow it to create the fine balance between its advisory function and its autonomy as a safeguard against the insidious persistence of racism in our institution.
Situate the history of Native American people in this region, the meaning of nationhood, and the revolving systems of discrimination, disenfranchisement, and colonialism. The Journey has come to shape its understanding of the anti-racism effort at UNL through the prism of Nebraska history, which situates the complex seeds of the racism we act against today within the history of Native American people in this region, the meaning of nationhood, and the revolving systems of discrimination, disenfranchisement, settlerism and colonialism that have characterized the life of people in this state, and that have proceeded through the narrative of enslavement, and racism that has come to shape American history and America's presence. It is because of our core understanding of this framework that we believe that the work that we do should be done with full understanding of this history. The very constitution of the Journey Co-Leaders must reckon with this history, and by the extension of this history in the experiences of people who are variously labeled as, among other terms, "visible minorities," "people of color," "BIPOC," and "historically marginalized people."
Help the university stay accountable to its stated values, and to do so as an ongoing practice of self-evaluation, critical thought, relevance, and action. The Journey Co-Leaders believe that this initiative, based on what we have done so far, is critical to any progress in anti-racism on campus. We also believe that this work is not just critical to, but essential for, the future of this university. We are of the view that given the peculiar history of racism in our state and in our university—peculiar to the culture of the state, the long-standing practice of administration, the long-standing history of race in the state and the university—the work that we will do could serve as an important model for such efforts in other places around this country. The effort is not to be driven by a punitive endeavor aimed at somehow causing damage to the institution or to individuals within the institution, but instead, to help the university stay accountable to its stated values, and to do so as an ongoing practice of self-evaluation, critical thought, and relevance to the changes in the world. We believe that the relevance of UNL to the future of America will be shaped by the way this institution responds to the evolving face of race, ethnicity, and culture in this country
Ensure an institutional structure and design that can be replicated regardless of changes to the make-up of the team. We also know that there is nothing redundant about this team and its current function, despite the number of organizations and groups doing diversity and inclusion work on campus. And while the character and shape of this team will be affected greatly by the people who currently sit on it, we believe that we are starting to see a structure and role that will do two key things:

  1. ensure an institutional structure and design that can be replicated regardless of changes to the make-up of the team; and
  2. offer a very clear sense of the kind of people that will be required to serve on the team for it to be effective—and by "kind," we mean strategic representation, accomplishments, areas of expertise, etc.

– UNL Journey Co-Leaders

Lory J. Dance,
associate professor of sociology and ethnic studies

Kwame Dawes,
Chancellor's Professor of English, Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner

Anna W. Shavers,
Cline Williams Professor of Citizenship Law and associate dean for diversity and inclusion

Kara Mitchell Viesca,
associate professor of teaching, learning, and teacher education

Sergio C. Wals,
associate professor of political science and ethnic studies

Colette Yellow Robe,
member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and academic retention specialist for TRIO programs