|CBC celebrates advocating for UNC faculty, staff|
|Published Monday, September 9, 2019|
CHAPEL HILL – To celebrate 45 years of welcoming and advocating for black faculty and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Carolina Black Caucus gathered in the Sonya Haynes Stone Black Culture Center on Wednesday evening. The group holds a welcome event to kick off the start of a new school year.
“The advocacy provided by the caucus for the last 45 years has been tantamount to the success of the African American and black staff and faculty here at Carolina,” president Dawna Jones said. “This group gives people in a minority the freedom to express themselves authentically as opposed to fitting within a mold.”
The CBC has approximately 280 members and seeks to support the black workforce at UNC, which comprises 12.5% of the school’s 12,142 employees, according to university data. Alicia Freeman, a new staff member of the Student Wellness office, attended the event after being invited by her management team.
“To me this group shows a commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Anytime I get a chance to support that, no matter what the group is, I’m going to try my best to be a part of it,” she said.
Charlie Shaw of the office of Technology Commercialization remembered being a new employee, and looked to the CBC as a way to connect on campus.
“I saw the caucus website before I even arrived at campus and asked for advice on where to live. People reached out to me and the current chair even took me out to coffee,” Shaw said. “It’s been a great support and a way of establishing networks.”
Traditionally, the group only allowed black staff, faculty and grad students to become members. However, they recently restructured the organization to include more membership types. Last year they opened it up to UNC alum who live in the area. They also welcome black and non-black friends or “allies” of the CBC who want to support its mission. Members pay a small annual fee that supports the CBC’s social and educational events throughout the year.
Beyond building a community for staff and faculty members, the group also helps people navigate encounters with racism in their work environment.
“We deal with all levels of racism on campus,” Jones said. “Sometimes a person might be concerned about the behavior of a co-worker with nothing tangible to report, and they want someone to talk to and help figure out how to manage it. Then there are the outright, blatant racist acts that they have to report and hopefully receive support. We help with all of it.”
Jones also described how the CBC advocates for fair wages for household and facility staff, and fights for equity in the UNC promotion and retention practices.
Devetta Holman became a member in the late ‘80s and has seen the organization’s mission evolve over time.
“It’s gone from a place where people air grievances to a group that wants to elevate the thinking of all staff and faculty, particularly in ways that will advance individuals who have been the most marginalized,” she said.
To learn more about the CBC, visit its website at unccbc.com.
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