Celebrating Black History Month in 2022

As we commence the month of February and celebrate Black History month, many systems of education, business and government, are engaged in honoring, celebrating, and educating one another in what this month signifies. 

From my perspective as the vice president of Student Affairs and chief of equity, diversity and inclusion officer, this month reminds me to take stock of where systemic racism continues to persist and to recognize that, here at Pacific University, we have an opportunity not only to educate, but also to learn from the experiences of one another. I have a hard time only focusing on the celebratory without embracing this quote from Theodore R. Johnson, director of the Fellows Program at the Brennan Center for Justice:  

"Since its inception, Black History Month has never been just a celebration Black America's achievements and stories — it's part of a deliberate political strategy to be recognized as equal citizens.” 

Upon reflection, to be considered an equal citizen from my point of view, would mean our Black community at Pacific would feel a sense of belonging within the walls of Pacific, would have their stories included in our academic syllabus — all the time, not just in history courses — and be treated fairly among their peers. Getting to this place requires more work, especially when we consider the devastating news of recent weeks, with over a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) shut down for bomb threats. These events seem overwhelming and cast a shadow on what should be a celebration of history, culture, and pride, so I pause to ask, how can we all do better to create an inclusive educational environment? 

As we strive to do at Pacific University, heritage months look different each time, because nothing should be cookie-cutter when trying to celebrate. I encourage you to join us for Black History Month 2022 either in person, via Zoom, or on social media at one of our upcoming events. More events are being added all month.

In Solidarity, 

Narce Rodriguez 
Vice President for Student Affairs & Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer



Friday, Feb. 4, 2022