As the new chair and also a new faculty member at TCU, I am honored and humbled to help CRES address the many challenges and opportunities confronting us at this critical moment for our department, university, and the world. CRES has played and will continue to play a vital role not only by filling in the gaps in our curriculum but also by developing research, teaching, and mentoring practices that act to decolonize education and empower members of historically disenfranchised communities both on and off campus.
I am excited to be fully employed for the first time in a department devoted to race and ethnic studies. My career in higher education was inspired by the Third World Liberation Front strikes that gave rise to Ethnic Studies a half-century ago. As an undergrad, I focused on African American history at the University of Pennsylvania. For graduate studies, I pursued an MA in Asian American Studies and PhD in History at UCLA. At my prior school, the University of Washington Bothell, I helped coordinate the American and Ethnic Studies major and curriculum within an interdisciplinary school. I also recently completed a term as president of the American Studies Association, which has been at the forefront of engaged scholarship promoting studies of race and Indigeneity within a comparative/relational, intersectional, and transnational framework centered on social justice. Some of my most prominent community organizing work and writing has been based in Detroit, as a mentee of and collaborator with the late philosopher/activist Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015). Boggs is profiled in the film American Revolutionary, which addresses the profound changes required in this moment and is currently streaming for free on PBS.
At its core, CRES is about building and sustaining community, particularly in ways that counter the forms of exclusion and marginalization that exist in the dominant culture. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed working-class BIPOC communities, forces us to balance the twin goals of safety and access. To protect the CRES community, especially those in the most vulnerable positions, we are implementing new office procedures consistent with TCU’s COVID-19 protocol. Please be advised that most CRES faculty and staff will be working remotely with the exception of a weekly office check-in. Students and all who need to contact CRES faculty and staff are requested to use email and TCU online.
But this year will open up new possibilities for communication, expression, and bonding to enhance and expand the CRES community. While our ability to hold traditional programs will be restricted, we are planning online events that will highlight the relevance of CRES courses and content to the urgent issues of our time, including the demonstrations against white supremacy and state violence, the public health and economic impact of the pandemic, the 2020 elections, and the many struggles ongoing at TCU. We especially want to create platforms to share the creative and critical expressions of CRES students on these and other issues through essays, poetry, and multimedia forms. Please share your suggestions and recommendations with myself or CRES’s Associate Director, Dr. Jane Mantey.
With all the adjustments and additional requirements going on, I know many of you are receiving an overload of messages right now. So I want to stop here and invite you to help CRES plan future opportunities for more in-depth personal and intellectual exchanges, whether virtually or (hopefully sooner rather than later) in-person. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I particularly encourage students to reach out to me on Zoom during virtual office hours on Tuesdays from 4:00 to 5:00 pm starting regularly August 25 or by appointment.
Scott Kurashige Ph.D.
Chair, Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies