Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice
Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice
Video: Murals for Justice, DreamPlay Media
“It all comes back to how we think about ourselves and others. The need to redefine the concept of being human and move toward global racial justice begins by understanding and addressing the ways we resist recognizing people who live under different circumstances than our own.”
— Michelle Stephens, Founding and Executive Director
The Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice is a conduit for new knowledge and ideas, providing opportunities for Rutgers faculty whose inquiries address racism and social inequality to work collaboratively and effect meaningful action and positive change. In bringing together scholars from multiple humanities disciplines across Rutgers—from law to language, from philosophy to art, from history to gender studies—the institute serves as a universitywide intellectual corridor that escalates the likelihood that their explorations and findings will inform real-world decisions, providing solutions to problems that have been increasingly thrust into sharp focus in the United States and around the globe.
Moving in the Local while Mapping Oneself in the Global
“I think of what we’ve been doing as a process that has been slow but also very vitalizing. Moving in the local while mapping oneself in the global. And to my mind that is what the mission of this Institute is”
— Michelle Stephens, Founding and Executive Director
ISGRJ Evergreen Video
Signature Events featuring Roxane Gay, Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies
We're pleased to announce that two of our signature fall events have featured Dr. Roxane Gay, author of the New York Times bestselling books Bad Feminist and Hunger, and the current Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University.
The Rutgers Race and Gender Equity (R.A.G.E.) Lab launched its first signature initiative, “Black Feminism in the Public Sphere,” with a special event entitled “Doing Black Feminism in Public,” a conversation with Dr. Brittney Cooper and Dr. Roxane Gay on Wednesday, September 13 on the Rutgers-New Brunswick . Watch the livestream recording here.
The Fellows in Racial Justice Learning Community (RAJU) and the ISGRJ Office of Undergraduate Intellectual Life hosted the inaugural Racial Justice Summit, featuring Dr. Roxane Gay as the keynote speaker on Friday, September 22 at Express Newark. The Racial Justice Summit was the first ever tri-campus student-led event to explore the future of racial justice initiatives on all three Rutgers campuses, encourage personal and intellectual growth, and help bolster nuanced conversations about community, activism, and responsibility. Watch the livestream of Dr. Gay's keynote here.
The Quilting Water Undergraduate Prize
We're thrilled to announce the six winners of the Quilting Water Undergraduate Prize. Selected from three Rutgers University campuses last year, they received a $1,000 cash prize and have been conducting Quilting Water interviews, examining relationships between disparate communities and their stories through water from around the world.
The students have also had mentorship sessions with an artist of national reputation as they make art in a genre of their choosing based on the Quilting Water archive. Congratulations to these exemplary students!
2023–2024 Rutgers Research Council Awards
Congratulations to the ISGRJ faculty who received awards this year from The Rutgers Research Council Awards and Subvention Program. The program offers grant opportunities to support faculty research and especially to encourage scholarship in tackling challenging disciplinary problems in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and creative arts.
The following faculty members were honored with a Research on Social and Racial Justice Award:
ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow Keith Green (Associate Professor, Department of English and Communication, School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers–Camden). Project Title: “Saved but Enslaved: Hannah Hovey, Briton Hammon, and the Earliest Black and Indigenous Members of Plymouth’s First Church, 1708–1783.”
ISGRJ Black Bodies, Black Health Project Steering Committee member Luis Rivera (Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers–Newark). Project Title: "The Role of Colonialism in Puerto Ricans’ Implicit and Explicit Racial Identities and Stereotypes."
Scarlet and Black Research Center Scholar Kendra Boyd (Assistant Professor, History, School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers–Camden).Project Title: "Recovering Black Bottom: Mapping Black Business Loss Caused by Urban Redevelopment in Detroit, MI."
And congratulations also to the faculty leaders of the Insurgent Intersections project, Kim Butler, Akissi Britton and Shantee Rosado from Africana Studies, for receiving a Collaborative Multidisciplinary Award!
When 13 Republican attorneys general issued a letter to Fortune 100 companies threatening legal consequences for their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts recently, they especially singled out attempts to increase the representation of Black talent. Companies that truly support diversity need to meet this moment head on by making it clear to their staff and the public that efforts to build a diverse workforce are not discrimination. They should be prepared to defend diversity efforts internally and legally when challenged.
After graduating with a Criminal Justice degree in the spring, Sammy Quiles says he is realizing potential that was hidden from him as an abused, neglected child sentenced to 30 years in prison for a crime he committed at age 17. In 2013, he enrolled in NJ-STEP, a program which provides a college education to the incarcerated, which not only helped him thrive as a student in prison but has been a crucial part of his transition.
The Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies has released four reports on educational inequality, with a focus on school discipline, STEM education, and college readiness. Called the New Jersey Statewide Education Equity Series, more reports will be published in the months ahead, with the aim of highlighting disparities and identifying opportunities for improvement.
Read the recent Op-Ed in NJ.com by Enobong (Anna) Branch, Rutgers Senior Vice President for Equity and ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow, who says while the Supreme Court’s decision requires race-neutral consideration in college admissions, the factors shaping the composition of college admission pools are anything but race-neutral. We must address those factors.
The Supreme Court decision last week striking down affirmative action upended decades of precedent that allowed colleges and universities to use race and ethnicity as one of many factors in the admissions process. Law professor and ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow Stacy Hawkins explains the potential consequences of the decision on college campuses and for democracy overall.
Read this feature on our founding and executive director by the Rutgers Global Health Institute, in which she examines the connections between structural racism and health outcomes through Black Bodies Black Health, a signature project of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice.
Founded in 1780, its first members included Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and today lists President Barack Obama; Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor; actor Tom Hanks; actor, songwriter and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda; and others who have been recognized for their notable achievements in academia, industry, policy research and science. Darby joins 270 others from the United States and 23 countries chosen in 2023.
The Rutgers-Camden Chancellor's Lecture Series on Global Racial Reckoning and Civility was held for the second consecutive year on March 27, featuring a keynote speech by five-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi. The esteemed scholar, whose work has shaped the national conversation on race and social justice, took the stage for a thought-provoking, candid conversation moderated by Stacy Hawkins, Senior Professor and Vice Dean at Rutgers Law School.
A Rutgers–Newark report by the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies—one of the first to detail the educational impacts of segregation in New Jersey—found that statewide segregation clusters large numbers of underserved students by race and class together, resulting in schools where resources are stretched thin, there are fewer guidance counselors, higher student teacher ratios and there are fewer opportunities for students to prepare for college or careers.
Stacy Hawkins, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School Camden and ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow argues that tensions between core values must be tested case by case in a new op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Read this new feature on ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow and Rutgers University—Camden English and Africana Studies Professor Keith Green about the role of Black-owned bookstores, which have served as places where ideas can be transformed into action through discussion and activism.
Long before Lizzo, the Black British composer, writer, butler, and shopkeeper Ignatius Sancho (ca. 1729–1780) subtly but unmistakably inscribed anti-racist messages in his music and was deeply engaged with the visual and performing arts as means for resisting discrimination, dehumanization, and the enslavement of Black people.
Read the essay by Rebecca Cypess (Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers–New Brunswick) on Ignatius Sancho, recently published in Early Music America.
The ISGRJ Founding and Executive Director is highlighted as one of the researchers from across the university who are making an impact on the university and their field of study. She is recognized as not just a leader in her field, but also the embodiment of the notions of diversity, equity, and inclusion that the university and the Office for Research strive to uphold.
Professionals and practitioners from around the university were invited to share their experiences as Black professionals: the highs, lows, most impactful lessons and their advice to the next generation.
At the start of Black History Month, ISGRJ Early Career Faculty Fellow and Rutgers University—Camden Assistant Professor of History Kendra Boyd spotlights the grit and resilience of Black businesswomen in Detroit through her research in "Rise of the Black Entrepreneur" which reveals how Black entrepreneurs of the past paved the way for those in the present.
The Rutgers University–Camden Department of Childhood Studies will bolster its international reputation as a leader in its field with an $800,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation Higher Learning Program. The prestigious four-year grant, which began January 1, 2023, supports Rutgers–Camden’s “Rethinking Race and Justice Through Childhood Studies” project, which will study race through a series of interdisciplinary programs in education, civic engagement, and professional development.
“We’re at a moment right now where there are other universities in our commonwealth that made similar commitments to engage in the work of antiracism who are ... going back on the promises and commitments they made,” said State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D., Philadelphia), who, along with State Sen. Sharif Street, also a Philadelphia Democrat, helped to secure $1.3 million in state funding for Temple’s center. “Instead what you see here is a university charging forward.”
Many professors say Penn State made the wrong choice and is generating the wrong kind of headlines — for abandoning a scholarly initiative with racial justice built into its name. “This is a moment when the United States is really wrestling with the legacy of race and racism in this country,” said Josh Inwood, a professor of geography, who served on the search committee with Harrell-Levy. "We have an obligation to be engaging in work that is transformative, and we’re missing out.”
For some time now, it has been a foregone conclusion among most observers that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised by next summer to end the practice by colleges and universities of using race as a factor in admissions.
Read the recent Newsweek article featuring Stacy Hawkins, Vice Dean of Rutgers Law School and ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow.
Our congratulations to Dr. Patricia Akhimie, Director of the RaceB4Race Mentorship Network and Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, on being named Director of the Folger Institute following a national search. She will lead the Folger’s scholarly programs and fellowships, supporting new and established forms of scholarship in the early modern humanities and making new connections with working scholars and the public.
Read this analysis in The Washington Post about how Black Latinos — and Dominicans, in particular — could help bridge two often divided marginalized communities by Early Career Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Political Science and Latino and Caribbean Studies Yalidy Matos, and Assistant Professor of Political Science Domingo Morel.
The new PBS documentary which premieres on October 4, 2022 offers fresh perspectives and insights into the inspiring woman who repeatedly risked her own life and freedom to liberate others from slavery.
Inaugural ISGRJ Early Career Faculty Fellow Kendra Boyd and our Scarlet and Black Research Project Manager and Digital Archivist Jesse Bayker will lead the project which will compile testimonies tracing the history of Black life and activism in the city and on the campus.
Rutgers Law School Co-dean Kimberly Mutcherson writes about the chaos the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has unleashed across the country in an op-ed on NJ.com.
Faculty across Rutgers share why it's important to mark Juneteenth and what are appropriate ways to honor the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor's op-ed explains why it's time to give DACA recipients a path to citizenship.
"School segregation is the epicenter of racial injustice, not just because of its material consequences—such as how it leads to systemic underfunding of urban schools—but also because it conditions people to be suspicious, distrustful, and resentful of those who are different. We often think about school segregation as a problem faced by Black and Latino children. But segregation also harms white children. We’ve known this for some time."
Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, one of the nation's greatest monuments. But while the building was conceived as a shrine and a temple, it quickly took on another role—as the nation's premier backdrop for demonstrations demanding social change.
Dunbar talks about how the Lincoln Memorial set the scene for monumental moments throughout US history.
Much of the U.S. could criminalize abortion. But how will those laws be enforced? NPR talks with reproductive rights lawyer Kim Mutcherson about how restrictive abortion laws would be enforced if Roe v. Wade is overturned or weakened.
"Opening the Gates to Global Racial Justice:"
Two creative writing professors from Rutgers–Camden are leading signature efforts of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice
(Spring 2022 Edition)
Rutgers University—Newark Professor and Institute Senior Faculty Fellow Salamishah Tillet was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in criticism for her New York Times essays on race in arts and culture.
Tillet, a Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies & Creative Writing and a contributing critic at large at The New York Times, won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism for what the judges called “learned and stylish writing about Black stories in art and popular culture.”
In the latest episode of Faces & Voices, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway interviewed Boddie about the road that led her to Rutgers–from the time she recognized her purpose as a student at Harvard Law School to her experiences clerking for Judge Robert L. Carter and serving as director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. to being appointed founding Newark director of Rutgers’ Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice.
This award is given annually to tenured faculty members in recognition of outstanding service in stimulating and guiding the intellectual development of students at Rutgers University.
The award honors a faculty member (Assistant or Associate Professor, tenure-track or non-tenure track) whose research area disrupts or transforms the interface of two disparate fields of scholarship or inquiry.
Judge Erika Meitner wrote the following about his work: "Reading Patrick Rosal’s The Last Thing: New & Selected Poems is an embodied experience; these poems jump off the page with a muscular exuberance. You can hear their raw emotions singing in your gut, and feel their language in the sway of your limbs...Rosal’s is a poetry of grief and loss, survival and perseverance, as much as it’s a poetry of ecstatic joy and humming eroticism. I chose this book because it moved me immeasurably."
"Rutgers must distribute opportunities equitably across all Rutgers campuses. Whether we consider investments in residence halls, classrooms, course variety, student services, staff or faculty pay, it is clear that Camden and Newark do not hold a candle next to the high-intensity football stadium lights of New Brunswick."
Quoting Patrick Rapa, For The Philly Inquirer:
"To my mind, poetry is best enjoyed aloud and in person. One poet I saw perform at AWP, Patrick Rosal — a Rutgers Camden professor with words like Guggenheim and Fulbright on his CV — crushed it with a midafternoon performance of emphatic, hip-hop-inflected verse. His words boomed across the ballroom. The applause was considerable. Good stuff."
"After witnessing the election of the first Black president and then the first Black and first female vice president, it is truly extraordinary as a Black woman to now bear witness to the first Black woman being confirmed to the US Supreme Court. These things seemed almost inconceivable in my youth, and now they are a reality."
Supporters of a lawsuit accusing the state of perpetuating segregated schools held a lunchtime rally in Trenton on Thursday, March 31.
The dozens who attended represented a cross-section of youth, faith, social justice, and civil rights groups who want state leaders to demolish, what a study determined to be, the home of some of the most segregated schools in the country.
Our new ISGRJ research project “Black Bodies, Black Health: Imagining a Just Racial Future,” funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded Professor Williams with a grant for her research into racial divides in breast cancer detection and outcomes in underserved communities.
Rutgers renewed its commitment to develop a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment through a new plan released Wednesday, March 30, that lays out concrete steps toward a university that models inclusive excellence.
Thursday, March 3 will mark an historic occasion as the court hears oral arguments in Latino Action Network et al. v. State of New Jersey about whether the state is liable for its segregated schools.
ISGRJ Newark Director Elise Boddie and Retired NJ Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein played a key role in facilitating the case.
ISGRJ Camden Codirector Patrick Rosal has been honored with a NJ Council of the Arts Award for his work and a proposed book based on his essay "Mutual Regard: A Love Letter for The Origins of Black-Filipino Resistance."
“What does the average person know about the Black elite in New York in the 1880s? The answer is very little if anything. There’s this huge gap between the Civil War and slavery and then, maybe, the Harlem Renaissance — as if nothing happened in between.”
Photograph by Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO
"...While the inclusion of a Black woman to the court would not shift the conservative majority, it would mark the first time that a large segment of Americans would feel represented by those in power. That visibility alone could go a long way in influencing career choices."
Photograph by Amber Ford/NY Times
Rutgers University — Newark ranks number one in the nation for “return on investment” among institutions with a high percentage of low-income students, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “This study highlights a critically important way of looking at the quality of higher education institutions: how well we facilitate social mobility,” said Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor.
Rutgers University-Newark has appointed ISGRJ Senior Faculty Fellow Salamishah Tillet as Executive Director of Express Newark. Established in 2017 as a center for socially engaged art and design, Express Newark brings together the community, the campus, and the City of Newark to make art that matters, address our city’s most prevailing social justice issues, and to advocate for systemic change.
ISGRJ Newark Director and Rutgers Law Professor Elise Boddie joins Chris Hayes on MSNBC along with The Nation's Elie Mystal to discuss President Biden's vow to nominate a Black woman to The Supreme Court, and what's at stake as The Supreme Court revisits affirmative action in college admissions.
From the creator of “Downton Abbey,” the new series, set in the late 19th-century, dramatizes the rift between New York City’s wealthy elite and the abject poverty and inequality of the same era. Image credit: Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO
Rutgers University–Camden goes "beyond the dream" to explore Martin Luther King Jr.’s lasting imprint on society with a virtual speaker series during the month of January. Kendra Boyd and Jesse Bayker are featured presenters.
Rutgers–Newark is joining a network of scholars working to uncover the beginnings of modern conceptions of race and racism through the study of pre-modern times through a $3.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The new Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice is bringing together 12 Rutgers scholars and six postdoctoral fellows from universities across the country who will interact with the public on important issues ranging from K–12 education, social justice, policy reform, public health, and criminal justice.
Elise Boddie, Rutgers University–Newark campus director for the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, in a discussion featuring retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein, talks about May 17 as an important and significant date in the history of racial justice, and what it means for equity in education and the future of our public schools.
Faculty from across Rutgers share their responses to the conviction of the former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd.
Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice founding executive director Michelle Stephens interviews Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway about his new book, The Cause of Freedom: A Concise History of African Americans, published by Oxford University Press.
Racial Justice Events
● Race in the Arts and Humanities ●
● Transforming Social Justice Values into Policies ●
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