PSR names director of Dismantling Racism Program
In November, Marquita Chamblee, PhD, was named the first director of PSR's Dismantling Racism Program, a part-time position she intends to pursue with full-time energy. She prefers the phrase "advancing racial justice" to "dismantling racism." "Let's keep dismantling racism, but let's move forward and advance racial justice," she says.
"Most of my work experience over the past 25 years has been in some form connected to diversity work," says Marquita (pronounced "Mar-kweeta"). "This includes recruitment, retention, programming, and working with students from high school through doctoral programs." She was born in Indiana and received her BS at Purdue and an MS and PhD at Penn State. She served as director of the Office of Diversity and Pluralism at Michigan State University until 2005, when she moved to the West Coast.
Chamblee is a consultant and life coach in Berkeley and is currently collaborating on a book, "Tools for Understanding White Privilege," with Frances E. Kendall. "The book is about creating tools that people can use to introduce conversations about race on campuses and in organizations, about how we begin to talk about race in an open and transparent way," Marquita says of the book project.
Discussing her new job as director of the Dismantling Racism Program, Chamblee says, "I have big plans! But my goal for the next few months is to really listen and learn. Although I've done a lot of anti-racism and pro-racial justice work, I haven't done it before in a faith context. So I need to understand better the progressive Christian movement, how that's both positive and presents a challenge concerning issues of race.
"I want to hear from people in the community. There have been incidents here, and people are in pain. I want to hear their stories and begin to figure out how we can do things differently. I also want to help white students understand what's happening, to increase their awareness of racism at PSR and why we have a dismantling racism program.
"As I'm beginning to have conversations with PSR people, I'm starting to hear: 'Yes, we need help, things aren't perfect; but we're putting things out there and we're trying.' Based on the work I've done in the past, I believe that PSR has the potential to really leap ahead in the areas of dismantling racism and advancing racial justice. I'm very excited about my work here."