Remarks for the Center for “Race”, Culture and Social Justice inaugural event

Good Morning Hofstra! My name is Dr. Jonathan Lightfoot and I am the Director of the new Center for “Race”, Culture and Social Justice. My remarks will be brief and I promise not to mention the New World Order, our so-called ‘president’, twitter, Putin, the Russians, wiretapping, Obamacare, Muslim bans, Ben Carson, slaveship immigrants, Betsy DeVos, Grizzly Bears, Jeff Sessions, transgender bathrooms, the CIA, the FBI, espionage, Steve Bannon, white nationalists, fake news, alternative facts, or draining swamps. Furthermore, in my efforts to be brief I promise not to mention the Kardashians, Kanye, Kyrie Irving, the Real Housewives, Oprah, Bachelors and Bachelorettes, Remy Ma, Nicki Minaj, hip hop beefs, celebrity divorces, O.J., Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Facebook Live, Snap Chat, Instagram, I-Phones, Selfies, Adele, Beyonce, Lemonade, the Grammys, La La Land, Moonlight or the Academy Awards. I just want to thank a few people who helped make the Center a reality and this day great.

First, thanks to my co-directors, Dr. Benita Sampedro Vizcaya and Dr. Santiago Slabodsky for all their hard work in helping to get the Center off to a good start. Next I must thank Dr. Dennis Mazzocco, President of the Hofstra AAUP faculty union for asking me to serve on the negotiations committee to collectively bargain the most recent faculty contract, which extends through August 2021. It was during these contract negotiations last summer when we proposed to the administration a faculty led Center that could help the Hofstra community effectively address many of the issues we often find controversial and distasteful such as engaging in dialogue on “race” and racism, sensitivity to cultural difference and awareness of social injustice. The administration was receptive and accepted our proposal to begin the transformative work of institutional change to create a more inclusive campus community at all levels of interaction from the clerical staff to the faculty, administration and students. I commend President Rabinowitz and Provost Simmons for their leadership and support of the Center. Finally, many thanks go to Vice Provost Dr. Bob Brinkmann, Cultural Center Director Athelene Collins and the entire Advisory Board for their support and promise to make sure the Center is successful and sustainable as we move toward making Hofstra a more welcoming and inclusive campus community.

We are still working on locating an accessible permanent office space on central campus. In the meantime, please visit our website at http://www.hofstra.edu/academics/race-culture-social-justice/index.html, or reach us by email at RaceCultureSocialJustice@Hofstra.edu for more information on our vision, mission and objectives. We endeavor to offer grant and fellowship opportunities, internships, blogs, links to relevant scholarly research and publications and other resources that will better connect the campus community around diversity issues and concerns. I am glad you are here to help us celebrate this momentous occasion and encourage you to pay close attention to our keynote speaker, Attorney Gloria Browne-Marshall, who I first met when she came to Hofstra to help us celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. I was impressed as she is a dynamic speaker and super smart. Again, thanks for coming!

-Dr. Jonathan Lightfoot, Director

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