Antiracism webinar features two ASU faculty
On June 30, 2020, over 1,700 professionals, from fields ranging from academic institutions to federal state and local government agencies, attended the unique and timely webinar "Becoming an Antiracist Society: Setting a Developmental Research Agenda."
This webinar, hosted by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)‚ was the brainchild of ASU associate professor Eleanor Seaton, a developmental psychologist in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics who examines the implication of racism related experiences on Black youth’s overall development. After the George Floyd video became public, she wondered what she could do to further the conversation.
While out running the day after the video went viral, the idea came to her. “It was time to start a conversation about racism among white people, the only group who has the power to eradicate racism,” said Seaton.
Seaton submitted a proposal to SRCD, a professional organization focused on the scientific study of child development where she recently held a leadership position, and where she served on a specific committee designed for rapid responses to immediate issues within SRCD. Within a week of submitting her proposal, she found herself on a planning meeting with SRCD leadership and others to build list of panelists for the webinar.
As the list of panelists took shape, including Margaret Caughy (University of Georgia) and Gabriela Livas-Steirn (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), and led by Seaton, there was a consensus that Associate Professor Rebecca White needed to be on the panel as well.
White, also from ASU’s Sanford School, studies adolescent development in the context of residential neighborhoods. The bulk of her research has examined the implications of living in neighborhoods that vary on their ethnic and racial makeups for U.S. Mexican and Latino adolescents.
Seaton had two primary goals in mind for the delivery of the webinar. First was to start the conversation regarding the emotional labor that white individuals need to undergo to unpack and critically examine white privilege and ‘whiteness’. Second was to foster the development of an antiracist research agenda.
“We know very little about how white youth become socialized around racism,” said Seaton. “We don’t know how racism is transmitted across generations or taught from grandparents and parents to kids, which is critical to understand if we ever want to reduce or prevent racism among the white population.”
Growing up white in the U.S., White noted that she has a lot of unlearning to do. “I have a lot of learning – of information that is new to me (but not new) – to do,” she said. “White people’s engagement with antiracism needs to involve the humility to unlearn old ways of knowing our world and learn ways that are new to us (but not new).”
“Anyone interested in becoming antiracist has homework!” said Seaton. In a recent ASU Now article she explains that whites: 1) need to educate themselves of racism, 2) truthfully interrogate racial experiences, and 3) become antiracist and work to eradicate racism in their respective schools, jobs, neighborhoods and networks. She goes on to say that non-Black individuals of color have two homework assignments: 1) work to eradicate anti-blackness in their respective communities and 2) become part of the solidarity movement for Black Lives Matter.
Click here to view an extensive list of racism resources, curated by Seaton.