UCR Hosts Black History Month Events
By Dianne Anderson
It’s not that Jamal Myrick, Ed.D never had any struggles, it’s just that he prefers to look at life through an anti-deficit lens, and a winning mindset that he passes on to his scholars and mentees.
Growing up, he said he didn’t personally know anyone that attended college, but he attributes his success to a caring community around him.
Throughout the journey, he didn’t have to go it alone.
“My community always provided a lot of support and guidance. A Black woman saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself, she said ‘You’re going to go to college,’” said Dr. Myrick, director of African Student Programs at UCR.
He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Florida University, a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies focused on higher education from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in higher education leadership from Azusa Pacific University.
Since then, he has remained active with several professional organizations and his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. To move upward, he believes the answer is reaching back, bringing in new change makers and leaders, and those who have not historically had a voice at the table.
“I’m always finding a way to mentor and establish a connection because those are the things that help me thrive not just in my career, but in life. That’s what I teach my scholars, my mentees, that we can all get to the top,” he said.
Early this month, Dr. Myrick was a featured speaker on the Black History Month panel discussion “Creating Racial Equity in our Communities,” which addressed systemic inequalities that have been brought to the forefront by the Black Lives Matter movement, including educational inequity.
Educators wonder what academic recovery looks like in the wake of the pandemic.
But for Black educators, the concern is that academics and technology remain more of an obstacle than for affluent districts. Even before the pandemic, services were sorely lacking for students of color than in wealthier districts and predominantly white areas.
From an equity standpoint, all the kids in school may have computers and technology, but privileged families may be working from home or have a babysitter tutoring their children.
Often, he hears people say they can’t wait until things get back to normal, to which he reminds them that one thing the pandemic has achieved is throwing light on the extent of educational inequities that exist in schools and Black communities.
“I’m really hoping that we don’t go back to what we used to do,” he said. “We were failing then or failing now. The school systems were not as supportive to Black and Brown communities, that’s just a given,” he said
In the coming weeks, students will congregate with erudite discussions through several Black History Month Zoom events spanning the gamut of social and academic opportunities on campus.
Among his favorites, “Black Queens Week” ends this week, highlighting the power that Black women in going above and beyond in supporting their community. Earlier this month, in partnership with other campuses, he said they were also thrilled to present the educator supreme, Dr. Angela Davis, at UCR’s first Social Justice Symposium.
On Wednesday, February 17, conversations expand on the Love and Justice dialogue with Dr. Durryle Brooks, and his research on the impact of the Black community constantly besieged by hurt and trauma. Brooks will talk through justice work and social justice.
“When we think about everything that took place last year, anti-Blackness, how do you send love back into this work when they’re talking about funding the police, and another Black person is being murdered?” he said.
Dr. Brooks also returns February 19 to explore the many forms of “Black Masculinity” in a re-imagining series to engage dialogue and challenge some erroneous notions.
Monday, February 22 concludes with a Black Dialogue series, which Dr. Myrick said he is especially excited to highlight unsung heroes in an initiative started by one of his staff members.
“A lot of folks are always thinking this is what Blackness is,” he said. “This is series it’s really an opportunity to let folks know that black folks come in all shapes, sizes, and identities. It is the way to highlight insert whatever identity you want and talk about it.”
For more information, see https://asp.ucr.edu/