Existing While Black at The University of Rochester
The University was my first “career” job out of college (PWI; RIT) way back in 2006 and like so many other BIPOC ( Black , Indegenous, People of Color) people. I have stories of overt racism and covert microagressions during my tenure as a staff member of the University; most I have never shared.
Instead of allowing bitterness and hurt to keep me away; upon returning to Rochester in 2013; I leaned into personal and professional work that would put me in better proximity to be the change I wished to see from large organizations like the UR. This charge eventually led me to my current position of community educator and Director and Founder of a grassroots non-profit organization.Over the last few years I have been in constant collaboration with the University through work with Izone, Rochester Center for Community Leadership, Ghandi Institute, the Alumni Network, Dr. Kate Mariner, and most recently Dr. Brett Robbins.
I am now in a position to effect systems change that will work to decrease instances of harm for future BIPOC students and staff. Part of this work for everyone involved is listening to the hurt and harm, giving space to acknowledge and sitting with the discomfort and dichotomy of an entity that has both helped and harmed internal and external communities of color and other marginalized people.
I do this work for everyone not in a position to be candid or share openly. For those for which this harm remains unshared due to fear of retaliation or worse. I do this work for me too who was also harmed and verbally abused by powerful white men (and women) as a young Black professional working at the UR. All this at a University known for great things but has at the same time been complicit in so much harm and hurt. These things can be true at the same time and sitting with this truth is what will be the catalyst for change.
If you are on Instagram please follow and read the account blackatur to sit with and read the stories of racism experienced by students at Rochester’s largest employer, The University of Rochester.
(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.
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non-profit disclaimer 540WMain, Inc. is a virtual not-for-profit 501(c)(3) and antiracist education brand that promotes justice for all. We have encouraged individuals to broaden their horizons and learn more about multidisciplinary issues and topics that impact the world since 2016.