The curation of a JMU Narrative on Race is one effort to emerge from the Task Force on Racial Equity. This living narrative provides a touchstone for the many facets of racial equity work at JMU. It grounds the work of the task force in the lived experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and shows how our many diverse recommendations focus on transformative change in four major areas. Likewise, it links ongoing work across the university by collectively acknowledging common challenges that these diverse efforts seek to improve. Read the full working paper from November 2021.

This Narrative on Race is a draft, living document.  This first iteration was compiled based on conversations with over 200 JMU faculty, staff, students, and alumni throughout the summer of 2021.  We welcome your continued input to assist with shaping this document and helping us as a JMU community to hear, respond and support all voices around race.  Please use this email address to share any additional information to enhance this narrative:

The Narrative Context

The process of curating the Narrative on Race involved three opportunities for JMU community input about the current state of racial experience and racial equity at JMU. These sessions were held in the summer of 2021. Each of the input sessions was facilitated and had dedicated notetakers to ensure that participants’ contributions were captured. The processes were designed to allow participants to share their experiences, perspectives, and questions in areas including Student Experience, Faculty and Staff Experience; Recruitment and Retention; Overall Culture; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts and Support; and Classrooms, Curriculum and Student Success.

The Task Force on Racial Equity utilized the services of the JMU Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue, collaborating with its director, Dr. Lori Britt, who facilitated all the sessions and led the team through the organization of this undertaking to begin to curate the narrative on race at JMU.

While not every aspect of the narrative will resonate with every member of the JMU community, the themes identified here reflect common and prevalent threads that underlie the lived experiences of our participants. These experiences in the present are informed by JMU’s history.

Emerging Themes

Four overarching themes emerged from the Narrative on Race. Taken together, these themes offer a view of the current experiences and perspectives of race and racial equity at JMU. The working document presents and expands upon each theme, including aspirational ideals toward which we strive, a summary of the findings, and information about previous and emerging university efforts aimed at addressing the need. This pairing of experience and data permits identification of things that are working that can be better resourced and communicated, and identification of gaps that need to be addressed.

Theme One: Mitigate Harm and Marginalization

Racial identity impacts the lived experience of JMU faculty, staff, and students of color in ways that sometimes cause harm, and come with additional burdens. Learn more

Theme Two: Encourage Sustainability and Accountability

Greater gains are limited by the inability to coordinate, provide accountability, and sustain emphasis on racial equity efforts and related actions over time. Learn more

Theme Three: Enhance Accessible Communication and Build Trust          

Lack of regular and easily accessible information about ongoing efforts to recruit and retain students of color leads to confusion about our progress and priorities. Learn more

Theme Four: Strengthen Efforts to Change Culture

Disparate, under resourced efforts are not enough to achieve racial equity and even more fully shape culture change. Learn more

The report presents and expands upon each theme, including aspirational ideals toward which we strive and relevant institutional data and information on current, past and emerging initiatives. Learn more

Mapping TFRE Recommendations to the Narrative on Race Project Themes

TFRE co-chairs mapped each recommendation to the four overarching themes that were identified in the Narrative on Race. This mapping ensured that the work of the TFRE supported the narrative’s identified needs. The theme, or purpose, of each recommendation is identified on the list of recommendations.

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