Hidden Truths: Stories of Race and Place in New England and Beyond

All events are at 7:00 pm via Zoom

The Neighborhood News Bureau's "150 Years of St. Petersburg's Black History" Project

Bernardo H. Motta

Marchers hold sign saying "Freedom Is The Name Of The Game" The Local Black History Project is a program Motta developed while director of the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg Neighborhood News Bureau (2015-2020) in partnership with the African-American Heritage Association, Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, and local Black-owned newspaper The Weekly Challenger. The project unearthed and curated historical documents, texts, artifacts, and materials associated with the arrival of the first Black settlers to the area where St. Petersburg, Florida, is today. The effort also recorded oral histories, produced and co-produced historical documentaries, developed digital maps and timelines, developed curricula for local schools, integrated Black history into the main curriculum in multiple local programs, and made the entire database freely available to the public. 

Bernardo H. Motta is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Roger Williams University. A former environmental lawyer from Brazil, Motta is interested in researching, practicing, and teaching better ways to do journalism, including community-driven, empowerment, solutions, social justice and restorative approaches to reporting. Motta also teaches and researches topics in environmental justice, media law, community right-to-know laws, critical pragmatism in education and journalism education and history. Motta is a 2021 Solutions Journalism LEDE Fellow developing a community-driven solutions journalism news service in Rhode Island.

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Outsider at Home: The Anti-Colonial, Anti-Casteist Vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar 

Anjali Ram

The Western world is familiar with Mahatma Gandhi, the freedom fighter who led the
overthrow of colonialism in India by mobilizing non-violent protests. Lesser known, but as
influential in challenging colonialism and providing a powerful social justice framework for the modern, independent Indian state is Babasaheb Ambedkar. Ambedkar was born in a poor family of the Mahar caste and suffered the indignities and brutalities of being an “untouchable,” in colonial India. Overcoming the injustices of his social circumstances, Ambedkar rose to become a social reformer, a human rights lawyer, an economist, a social justice advocate, and a leader who called for radical ideas of equality and freedom. As a key founder of the Indian Republic, Ambedkar was a social change agent for millions of Dalits and an inspiration to many Black and indigenous scholars and activists fighting for racial equality globally.

Anjali Ram is a professor of Communication and Media Studies at Roger Williams University. She primarily teaches in the areas of Intercultural Communication, Gender and Media, Qualitative Research Methods, and Bollywood cinema. Her teaching and scholarship is grounded in the critical-cultural studies tradition and centers ethics of inclusion, equity, and social justice.  Dr. Ram is actively engaged in conversations related to inclusive pedagogy on the campus through her role as co-facilitator in the Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellowship and was awarded the  Excellence in Teaching Award in 2021.

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Who Has Access to Rights?: Disparities in Reproductive Healthcare 

Brittany L. Raposa

Currently in the New England area, reproductive rights are largely protected through law, even with the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. However, the history of reproductive rights in New England sheds light on an ever-existing issue: there are stark disparities in reproductive healthcare outcomes for women of color and women of lower socio-economic status. While laws may secure the reproductive rights for individuals in New England, the systemic racism from our history still exists to show that not all have ACCESS to these rights, resulting in poorer and unequal health outcomes. This presentation will give an overview of reproductive health law in New England, and presently demonstrate how current laws in New England protect individual's reproductive rights. However, the presentation will then reveal how, despite these rights existing, many women of color and women of lower socio-economic status do not have equal access to exercise these rights, resulting in the systemic racism and reproductive healthcare disparities. 

Brittany L. Raposa is a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law where she teaches Reproductive Rights and Family Law, and directs the law school's bar exam preparation program. Her scholarship focuses on access to reproductive healthcare, and disparities in reproductive healthcare outcomes. 

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ZIP Code Matters - How Where You Live Impacts Economic, Health and Educational Outcomes 

Brenda Clement

This session will describe HousingWorks RI’s foray into understanding Rhode Island municipal residential zoning, most recently enhanced by GIS mapping. In its efforts to better understand municipal potential for residential development, over the last several years, HousingWorks RI has examined municipal comprehensive plans and zoning codes to align what is proposed in plans to what has been passed by ordinance. Taking it a step further, this year HWRI has engaged in GIS mapping of zoning for single family, two-family, multifamily, and mixed-use development, as well as the state’s low- and moderate-income housing, public infrastructure, and transit routes. This work has been informed by HWRI’s analysis of the methodologies used by Desegregate CT and Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Transit Oriented Development Explorer (TODEX) in order to contribute to the start of a Zoning Atlas for the state, if not the southern or entire New England region.

HWRI envisions a Rhode Island in which communities embrace a variety of housing choices so that residents, regardless of income, can live in healthy, quality homes in vibrant and thriving neighborhoods. In its research, HWRI is seeking to discover where municipalities may be able to achieve more diversity of housing types to accommodate a growing need for smaller homes for our older adult population, modest homes for those of low to moderate incomes, along with the variety of homes needed to meet the needs of a wide range of household types—from young adults and workers to those who seek to relocate here.  For the last several years, HWRI has used a regional lens to examine how this may be achieved in a manner in keeping with the principles of Land Use 2025 while also not further exacerbating our state’s racial, ethnic, and economic segregated housing patterns. 

The session will promote Smart Growth Principles that enhance life opportunities, as represented by the Social Determinants of Health, which advance connections to affordable, healthy homes that are located within equitable and inclusive communities, accessible to well-paying jobs, high quality education, and a healthy environment. 

Brenda is the Director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University. She has over 20 years of experience in the housing and community development field. She previously served as Executive Director of the Housing Action Coalition of Rhode Island, a statewide affordable housing advocacy organization, and as Executive Director of the Housing Network, the Rhode Island trade association for community development corporations. Brenda is also a founding member of the New England Housing Network and served on the Board of the National Low Income Housing Coalition for nine years and just recently completed her term as Chair. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Economics from Providence College and a Juris Doctor from Washington College of Law at American University. She has received many awards and recognition for her work including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 from Rhode Island Housing.

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Hidden Truths: Anti-Blackness at School

Kerri Ullucci and Joi A. Spencer

While schools are often framed as places of neutrality and fairness, many American schools have either actively harmed Black children or been silent in the face of their struggles, under-education and mistreatment. While there are undoubtedly adults in these spaces who work to support Black children, many others ignore Black families, minimize youths’ concerns and believe that taking a colorblind stance will solve the problem of inequity in education. None of these tactics will help to undo the damage exacted upon Black children in schools. This talk will address the contours of anti-Blackness in schools to Illuminate the ways in which anti-Blackness pervades education, explore the ways in which diversity work is not synonymous with anti-racist work, and provide concrete, doable, meaningful ways in which teachers and administrators can work against anti-Blackness in their schools.

Dr. Kerri Ullucci was born and raised in Rhode Island. She is a first-generation college student. She received her PhD from UCLA in Urban Schooling and her MAT from the University of Pittsburgh in Elementary Education. She is a former elementary teacher and has been licensed to teach in RI, MA and CA.  Dr. Ullucci is currently an Associate Professor of Diversity and Equity in Education at Roger Williams University. Her research interests include race and poverty issues in schooling and the development of culturally relevant teaching practices. Dr. Ullucci has been published in many journals, including Urban Education, Race, Ethnicity and Education and Teacher Education Quarterly. Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Dr. Spencer, Anti-Blackness at School: Creating Affirming Educational Spaces for African American Students, will be published in November 2022.

Dr. Joi Spencer is the dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Riverside. Her work is centered on educational equity in higher and K-12 education, and her research investigates the mathematics learning opportunities of African American and other minoritized youth. 

Prior to her appointment at UCR, Spencer spent 16 years at University of San Diego (USD) where she served in a variety of roles including professor of mathematics education, associate dean, and interim dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). Spencer launched a doctoral program in Education for Social Justice, implemented a school-wide professional development on anti-racism, and established SOLES’ first Diversity Post-Doctoral Fellows Program. Her earlier work included five years as a middle school teacher in East Palo Alto.

The daughter of working-class parents, Spencer grew up in South Central Los Angeles and was bused to the Downtown Business Magnet High School in Los Angeles, where she earned her high school diploma. During her senior year, her family moved to Moreno Valley, the fast-growing city just east of Riverside, where they still reside.

Spencer holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from UCLA. Notably, Spencer is the first woman and person of Color to serve as permanent dean of UCR School of Education.

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