Dear colleagues, students, staff, and alumni,

As our country confronts the damage and suffering caused by racism and police brutality, we as a faculty believe it is important to remind ourselves of our obligation to principles of social justice and equal rights and our commitment to dialogue and action to fight against racism in all of its forms. We must honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others who have tragically lost their lives by educating ourselves and becoming active agents of change. Our HDFS community must be mindful of the extra stress that Black faculty, students, staff, and clients are experiencing. We must provide support and do better as a unit and as a country.

The abhorrent murders that have triggered a world-wide upsurge in anti-racist protests and activity, a continuation of the decades-long work of the Black communities' fight for justice, instigated in our department self-reflection as to how we have been faring in fighting racism. We must acknowledge that our current foundations lie in privilege afforded by centuries of racial injustice and that the reverberations of that legacy remain today. Although we have striven to incorporate issues of race and racism in our curriculum and research, we must continue to examine how we can improve our pedagogy, teach our students about the insidious nature of racism and oppression, along with the strengths and rich history of Black families, and ensure that our students are prepared to work with diverse populations. We also need to increasingly utilize our scholarship for the betterment of the citizens of Alabama. If our department is to truly fulfill our mission to create and apply "knowledge to prevention and intervention efforts with the goal of assisting individuals, families, and communities in reaching their full potential" we must acknowledge our shortcomings and take concrete actions for anti-racism scholarship and education. To this end, the HDFS department will:

  1. Challenge ourselves and each other on our own biases and prejudices, and incorporate anti-racism education and training as an integral part of our professional development through formalized reading discussions, attendance at workshops, and online educational opportunities.

  2. Ensure all faculty and graduate students complete anti-racism training and Safe Zone training by the end of the 2020-2021 school year. We include SafeZone training as members of our community who are Black and identify as LGBTQ are at amplified risk for discrimination and violence. Furthermore, SafeZone provides an additional avenue for developing the skills needed to fight racism and bias in all of its forms.

  3. Engage in collaboration to enhance the degree to which each of our classes effectively addresses the intersections between race, racism, human development, and family systems. This will include two actions: (a) maintain shared teaching resources relevant to this goal, and (b) engage in bi-semester meetings of the faculty who teach graduate-level classes and those who teach undergraduate-level classes to share strategies for teaching about racism, and the resiliency of Black families and communities, and problem-solve as to how to address challenges to this objective.

  4. Work with the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to create a resource document for our department faculty, students, and staff who witness or learn about a racist incident on campus. This document will provide information as to how to talk with the member of the campus community affected, who at the university to contact, and how to follow-up with the affected individual(s).

  5. Allow for all anti-racism work by our faculty to be included and considered in promotion and tenure materials. This work is integral to institutional change and should be recognized and rewarded in a way that contributes to, rather than is an impediment to, career advancement.


The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), the Gerontology Society of America (GSA), the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and many organizations that support our scholarship have provided words of wisdom and resources for us to take advantage of at this time. Additional resources are also provided.

https://www.srcd.org/news/anticipating-srcd-2021-letter-co-chairs-and-srcd-president
https://www.ncfr.org/news/response-death-george-floyd-and-call-action-ncfr-board-directors
https://www.ncfr.org/news/resources-address-racism-and-racial-violence
https://www.geron.org/press-room/press-releases/2020-press-releases/1186-aging-researchers-call- for-inclusion-justice-and-equality
https://www.naeyc.org/resources/blog/message-from-naeyc
https://blog.aamft.org/2020/06/aamft-statement-on-mft-responsibility-to-counter-racism.html
https://blog.aamft.org/2020/06/resources-for-mfts-in-a-racialized-climate.html
https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-s-Statement-On-Recent-Racist-Incidents-and-Mental-Health-Resources-for-African-Americans
A toolkit on anti-racism for all ages: https://tinyurl.com/y96bjngc
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G99u6z6CfM0
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/05/9841376/black-trauma-george-floyd-dear-white-people

We also encourage participation in the following: the NAACP will host a virtual town hall on Wednesday, June 10th at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT. The panelists include: Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, Joe Biden, Vice President, and Marcia Fudge, US Representative (D-OH). The discussion will include the global public health crisis and incidents of hate crimes, which have laid bare the disparities and systemic racism present throughout our nation. Journalist Ed Gordon will be the moderator, and time will be allotted for audience questions. We encourage you to register at https://naacp.org/virtual-town-hall/

Let’s all challenge ourselves to do better to recognize the history of systemic racism in all of its forms— including in health care, housing, education, and law enforcement–and to take action to help individuals, families, and communities, as reflected in our HDFS, College, and Auburn mission statements. We, as a faculty, accept the challenge to promote a climate of equity, inclusion and respect. We welcome further ideas and input on our action steps. We believe in us, the work we do, and the future we will create together. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need support.

With care,

Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder, Professor
Dr. Katrina Akande, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist
Dr. Rob Bubb, Lecturer
Amanda Butler, Instructor and Director of Child Life Programs
Dr. Adrienne Duke, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist
Dr. Mona El-Sheikh, Professor
Dr. Stephen Erath, Professor and Graduate Program Officer
Dr. Thomas Fuller-Rowell, Associate Professor
Dr. Ben Hinnant, Associate Professor
Dr. Scott Ketring, Associate Professor and Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Program
Dr. Kyle L. Kostelecky, Associate Professor
Dr. Mallory Lucier-Greer, Associate Professor
Dr. Julianne McGill, Assistant Research Professor
Dr. Lisa Moyer, Lecturer
Dr. Josh R. Novak, Assistant Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy Program
Dr. Lauren Ruhlmann, Assistant Professor
Dr. Jamie Sailors, Director of Undergraduate Programs
Dr. Diana R. Samek, Associate Professor
Dr. Wendy Troop-Gordon, Professor
Dr. Brian Vaughn, Professor
Dr. Silvia Vilches, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist
Margaret Vollenweider, Assistant Director, Auburn University Early Learning Center
Dr. Jennifer Wells-Marshall, Associate Clinical Professor
Sharon Wilbanks, Director, Auburn University Early Learning Center
Jennifer Wood, Instructor and Head Teacher, Auburn University Early Learning Center
Dr. Elif Yildirim, Assistant Professor
Dr. Angela Wiley, Professor & Department Head