Race, Identity, & Liberation Conference
Transforming K-12 Public Education and the Academy for the Greater Good.
Inaugural Conference of the Center for the Improvement of Education
Post Conference Thoughts
Below are some reflections written by Teacher Opportunity Corps. Students from Queens College.
If you wish to provide us with your feedback, please fill out the form below.
"This conference has been a unique experience, where I was able to hear the stories and passions of various educators and scholars. The panelists were captivating and I found myself wishing that there was more time to hear from them. Preparing for the conference itself was a learning experience of its own. Dr. Yu prepared us to present ourselves as professionals, and definitely helped when it came time to speak to panelists. This was my first time attending a conference, so I was glad (and relieved) that I had the support of Dr. Yu and fellow TOC members.
The dialogues I was able to attend, gave me a lot to think about. I realized I have to have more intention about the way I do things, whether in education or otherwise. While we all can (and should) acknowledge that race is, I feel like there is internal reluctance to do so by some educational professionals. Listening to the difference experiences of the panelists dealing with the topic of race - whether as a scholar or as a professor - helped me realize that this is still a big problem but there are fantastic people trying to change the way things are. Now when I’m in the classroom, I find myself thinking about the ways educators can do better to make their classrooms a comfortable learning environment. School should not only be just a place to learn academics, but to also to learn how to be a welcoming member of society. The conference was a great opportunity, and I am so thankful that I was able to be apart of it." -TOC Student
"Conference was Therapeutic"
I was attempting to write the title of this reflection first. Then realized that the richness of the conference resists my move to quickly encapsulate it in a pithy title. So the title is written last and I’m probably still not satisfied with it.
One of my European friends has asked me why America is so obsessed with race and race is so politicized. I tried to put myself in her shoes and imagine how tiring and draining it could be to see the racial issues in all aspects of life. I tried and indeed it was draining. I also knew it without imagining because I participated in summer programs where those conversations got very heated.
When I moved to China five years ago the issue of race was one of the last things I thought about. I was in my bubble of teaching mostly American and Canadian expatriates of Asian descents. Even though race was not politicized and not part of any major conversation, it loomed large in corners. A fellow Asian American teacher and I had a heart to heart about the perceived competence of whiteness in the English teaching profession abroad. “Am I crazy?” He asked me. No, brother, I said. Crazy is having to prove extra hard that Asians can speak and teach English.
The conference shed a light on why I feel so tired and drained thinking about issues of race and identity — it is because I’ve been doing the work, often alone, when my colleagues should do the work too in thinking and talking about race, identities and power.
I listened a lot during the conference because in a strange way, I felt relaxed. How can tense issues of race, identities and power be relaxing? It was perhaps, I dare to say, therapeutic because so many people are doing the work of showing that seeing the intertwined relationship of race, identities and power in all aspects of life is not crazy at all; it is uplifting. -TOC Student
On March 12, 2019 I attended the Inaugural Conference of the Center for the Improvement of Education, the conference on Race, Identity, and Liberation, which took place on the campus of Queens College in Queens, New York. The theme of the conference was “Transforming K-12 Public Education and the Academy for the Greater Good”. It was encouraging to hear from several people about identity and race in such difficult times in our country. I enjoyed the presentations of the keynote speakers, Dr. John Kuo Wei (Jack) Tchen, Rutgers University, who spoke about identity and of Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz, Teachers College, Columbia University, she spoke about identity as well, but she focused on the self-identity in teacher education. I also enjoyed the conversations between Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist and Jin Park, Harvard University Graduate and First DACA recipient to be elected a Rhodes Scholar, with Dr. Jack Tchen as the moderator. They spoke about their experiences of being undocumented. I attended two different dialogue sessions, but the one I enjoyed the most was “The Time is Now: Whiteness, Emotionally, and Dealing with the Discomfort of Racially Just Teaching” presented by Dr. Cheryl Matias, University of Colorado, Denver. In her session Dr. Matias spoke about how we don’t like to talk about race. She also talked about feeling white, not only with the skin color, but also about the stereotypes of white people and their emotions. She also spoke about racial microaggressions in everyday life. If I had the chance I would have attended all dialogue sessions. There was something to learn about in each session, whether it was about Race, Identity, or about Liberation. I hope we get the opportunity to attend a conference like this one in the future. -TOC Student
The Race, Identity, and Liberation Conference was a beautifully planned event that gave all of us in the Teacher’s Opportunity Corps a better understanding of what role it plays in our future as educators. I found the second keynote discussion between Dr. Cheryl Matias and Dr. Nolan Cabrera especially powerful. One statement that really stood out for me was from Dr. Matias when she said that white teachers come into minority neighborhoods saying they want to give back to the communities. This made me really take a moment because as a student from a predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood most of my teachers had been white. There had been too many times where I had heard these same teachers tell us that they are here to help us and give back to our community. I had never thought to ask, “Give us back what?”
During Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz’s session, I was able to reflect on my identity as a white teacher plays in the classroom. This made me realize once again how significant the work we are completely at Teacher’s Opportunity Corps truly is. As Dr. Cabrera had said during his keynote ‘Doing this work is to save our humanity, not the individual.’ By continuing our work on racial awareness and activism past this conference and the conference we attended at Teacher’s College we will be able to not just become better teachers to our students but better humans. Thank you for always providing us with opportunities for professional and personal growth. -TOC Student
The Race, Identity, and Liberation Conference was a transformative experience for me that I would love to be a part of and continue to see in upcoming years. As a student teacher in a school with a large disparity in the racial representation of teachers as compared to students, I have been confronted both by feelings of inadequacy and isolation. I felt isolated from the conversations between teachers, both because of how their beliefs of students clash with mine, and with how their general politics and experiences are not relatable to me and I believe, a majority of their students. I felt these feelings when student teaching in the middle school as well, but was not nearly as exposed to the other teachers as I am at my current school, where I am in the teacher’s lounge every day. The conference helped to remind me that the identities of my students should not be taken for granted or treated with a “color-blind” approach. It reminded me that yes, our position and experiences do influence us and our beliefs and goals for students. It reminded me that I do not need to assimilate to the dominant educational culture in my school, in the way that I feel like I have been forced to assimilate to the patriarchal white-supremacist culture my whole life. When I first started going to student teaching, I was often mistaken as a student despite my professional attire. I wondered why other young teachers or student teachers did not have this experience. I then realized that it was because I actually look like many of the students that go to the school. I felt initially shocked when confronted by this racial hierarchy. However, this realization gave me a profound sense of connection with the students, that I believe has made me a better educator.
The conference was immensely empowering for me. I remembered something that Jose Antonio Vargas said about undocumented immigrants being severed from the rights and protections of this county. This idea of severance spoke to me, because it helped me to reframe my feelings of isolation as an educator of color as not stemming from myself, but from the dominant power structures that exist to create these feelings. I mentioned that to him in his book signing, and he wrote in the book that what is important is to create connections with ourselves. I have taken this to heart, now trying to consider the ways that I can develop my own beliefs and goals that stem from self-reflection and looking inward, which I think is critical as an educator.
The next day after the conference, I was invigorated with the things I had learned and felt empowered to not hide myself and withhold from having these conversations anymore. In the teacher’s lounge the next day, a conversation arose about some political issue. I read the same article, so we talked about it, agreeing for the most part. At some point we began discussing “historical amnesia” which I brought up as something I had learned about in the conference the day before, and which I was now equipped with to articulate the ways that people fail to analyze the positions of power that people can have in this “post-racial” world. The other teacher started talking about how his (white) wife creates social-studies curriculum, but has not been allowed to use certain primary sources with depictions of the global slave trade in global history curriculum. I commented that there should be a sensitivity there, and that I believe that nuanced and deep explorations of these matters were not happening in education because white educators may not be comfortable with this. The teacher I was having a conversation with said, “Oh, you mean white fragility?” in a mocking way, and said how this could be connected to Muslim fragility. From that deeply ahistorical comment that was clearly meant to offend me, I decided to no longer engage in the conversation and did the usual smile and nod that I had been so accustomed to doing throughout my life. Yes, these conversations make people uncomfortable. But the conference empowered me to feel like there were people out there that cared that these conversations are happening and would have my back, so to speak, in the way that I have always felt through my participation in TOC. -TOC Student
For those who believe in the post racism myth of contemporary society, the wave of emotions delivered by the Race, Identity and Liberation conference ought to prove otherwise. Due to these very emotions, it is evident that we have such a far way to go in this fight towards sound and just education for all children. Personally, it was so fulfilling to see the proud faces and listen to the promising voices of all those who are determined to continue their advocacy towards the common goal of everyone in the room; the goal of securing our futures and that of our children and their children. I’m so grateful to be apart of such a profound experience so thank you to all those who made this possible, especially Dr. Yu.
With the current political climate, it is evident that these conversation (addressing race) continue to remain a critical part of the dialogue regarding education and I think it is something that all potential educators should be a part of. Additionally, sitting in a room filled with these people was very satisfying as I recognize that these individuals also believe in the necessity of such conversation. Lastly, it was very unifying to see that we all understand that battling racism in its every form is ultimately fighting on the side of humanity and I left the room feeling hopeful of the future if our children’s education and their children. -TOC Student
Center for the Improvement of Education at QC
The Center for the Improvement of Education at Queens College was established by the City University of New York in 1980 to increase research, scholarship, and the implementation of critical, culturally-sustaining pedagogical, psychological/counseling, and leadership practices aligned with the Professional Education Unit’s Core Values of promoting: Equity, Excellence, and Ethics in urban schools and communities.
The Center’s activities emphasize educational justice for those most vulnerable to marginalization and disenfranchisement; seeking ultimately to improve the learning and well-being of all P-12 learners, families, and communities.
Race, Identity, & Liberation Conference
March 12, 2019
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
LeFrak Concert Hall
Our last day of sales is on Friday, March 8th. There is no on-site ticket sales at Queens College on March 12th. Check In begins at 7:00AM-8:15AM in the Dining Hall, not LeFrak Concert Hall. Doors of Lefrak Concert Hall will open at 8:00AM for security check. Seating will begin after security check in at 7:30AM.Late Check In will not be honored after 8:30AM at the Dining Hall.Please print out your Eventbrite paper tickets. No electronic tickets via smartphones are accepted at this time. We apologize for this inconvenience.Access entry in and outside of the conference buildings, all guests will need to have their conference badge, paper Eventbrite ticket, and conference bracelet. Check In to the conference with your Eventbrite tickets will be held in the Dining Hall. At the dining hall, guests will receive their name badge, folder, paper program, breakfast/lunch bracelet.
There are no large bags permitted inside the conference buildings.It is advised to arrive early to obtain your conference materials, breakfast, security check in, and seating.Open seating to LeFrak Concert Hall is first come first serve. Please honor reserved seating as indicated in LeFrak Concert Hall.Be advised that there will be metal detectors, security checks, New York Police Department (NYPD), and CUNY Safe Team on campus.
You must purchase 1 conference ticket for $40.00. You will be given the opportunity to attend one Dialogue Session in the morning and one Dialogue Session in the afternoon. Please choose your priority choice 1 and 2 for both morning and afternoon Dialogue Sessions.
If we cannot fulfill your priority choice 1 due to capacity, we will be happy to fulfill your priority choice 2.
Early Registration: February 8, 2019 - March 1, 2019
Late Registration: Tickets purchased after March 1, 2019 will be $65.00
Ticket sales end March 8th
BreakfastLunchOne morning dialogue sessionOpportunity to meet and greet with the authors: Mr. Jose Antonio Vargas, Dr. Nolan Cabrera, Dr. Cheryl Matias, and Dr. Jack Tchen with a purchase of a book. One afternoon dialogue session
If you are a QC student/faculty, please contact us using the contact us page regarding tickets.
Parking on campus is limited.
Public transportation is highly recommended.
Courtyard by Marriott
183-15 Horace Harding Expy, Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
Coffee, Breakfast, and Registration: 7:00AM-8:30AM
Opening Remarks: 8:30AM-9:15AM
President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Queens College
Dean Craig Michaels, Division of Education
Dr. Judy Yu, Division of Education
Mr. Angel Ortega, Teacher Opportunity Corp. Student
Morning Keynote Speakers: 9:15AM-10:30AM
Dr. John Kuo Wei (Jack) Tchen, Rutgers University, Newark, and New York University
"Tips of Surviving 'Zombie Apocalypse'"
Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz, Teachers College, Columbia University
Archaeology of Self, Race, and Culture in Teacher Education and the Academy
Conversation with Mr. Jose Antonio Vargas and Mr. Jin Park Moderated by Dr. Jack Tchen
Mr. Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Award Journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and leading voice for the human rights of immigrants. His memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (HarperCollins, 2018), was a critical success.
Mr. Jin Park, recent graduate of Harvard University, where he studied molecular and cellular biology with a minor in ethnicity, migration, and rights. He is a DACA recipient from South Korea who has resided in Queens since he first moved to the United States. He was elected a Rhodes Scholar in District 3 (NY-South), becoming the first DACA recipient to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarships.
Morning Dialogue Sessions: 10:45AM-12:15PM
Dialogue Session #1: Race and Power: Evaluating Psychological Consequences in the Classroom
Led by Dr. Shinhee Han, Columbia University, Dr. Mica McGiggs, The New School, and Ms. Yael Rosenstock, Queens College
Location: Main Dining Hall, President's Lounge
Dialogue Session #2: "Teaching While White": Critical Perspectives of White Scholars & Educators
Led by Dr. Leslee Grey, Queens College, Dr. Lori Falchi, Bank Street College, Dr. Limarys Caraballo, Queens College, and Ms. Allison Van Deven, Queens College
Location: Main Dining Hall, Q-Side
Dialogue Session #3: Archaeology of Self and Identity in Teaching and Learning
Led by Dr. Yolanda Sealy Ruiz, Teachers College, Columbia University, Dr. Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac, Northern Parkway Elementary School, and Dr. Karla Manning, Queens College
Location: Main Dining Hall, Patio Room
Dialogue Session #4: "The Time is Now: Whiteness, Emotionality, and Dealing with the Discomfort of Racially Just Teaching"
Led by Dr. Cheryl Matias, University of Colorado, Denver; Dr. Nolan Cabrera, University of Arizona, Dean Craig Michaels, Queens College, and Dr. Judy Yu, Queens College, Dean Michael Wolfe, Queens College, Mr. William Anders, NYC Men Teach, Mr. Jin Park, Harvard University, and Dr. Jack Tchen, Rutgers University, Newark, New York University
Location: LeFrak Concert Hall
Lunch & Authors Book Signing: 12:15PM-12:45PM
Mr. Jose Antonio Vargas, Dr. Cheryl Matias, Dr. Jack Tchen and Dr. Nolan Cabrera
Book Signing Location: Le Frak Concert Hall
Boxed Lunch will be available at the Main Dining Hall
Afternoon Keynote Speakers: 12:45PM-1:30PM
LeFrak Concert Hall
Dr. Cheryl Matias, University of Colorado, Denver, Author of "Feeling White: Whiteness, Emotionality, and Education".
Dr. Nolan Cabrera, University of Arizona; Author of "White Guys on Campus: Racism, White Immunity, and the Myth of "Post‑Racial" Higher Education".
Afternoon Dialogue Sessions: 1:45PM-3:15PM
Dialogue Session #1: Working with Youth to Transform Our Public Schools
Led by Ms. Vanessa Leung, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Ms. Denis Yu, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Teens Take Charge, Mr. Taylor McGraw, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Ms. Iman Abdul, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, and Dr. Judy Yu, Queens College
Location: Main Dining Hall, President's Lounge
Dialogue Session #2: "Teaching While White": Critical Perspectives of White Scholars & Educators
Led by Dr. Leslee Grey, Queens College, Dr. Lori Falchi, Bank Street College, and Ms. Michelle Coleman, Queens College
Location: Main Dining Hall, Q-Side
Dialogue Session #3: Archaeology of Self and Identity in Teaching and Learning
Led by Dr. Yolanda Sealy Ruiz, Teachers College, Columbia University, Dean Michael Wolfe, Queens College, Dean Craig Michaels, Queens College, Ms. Allison Van Deven, Queens College,Mr. William Anders, NYC Men Teach, Narine Bahrat, Queens South Field Support Center and Aliyah Baksh, Queens College
Location: Main Dining Hall, Patio Room
Dialogue Session #4: “White Immunity”: Working Through the Pedagogical Pitfalls of ‘Privilege’
Led by Dr. Cheryl Matias, University of Colorado, Dr. Nolan Cabrera, University of Arizona, Dr. Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac, Northern Parkway Elementary School, and Dr. Limarys Caraballo, Queens College
Location: LeFrak Concert Hall
Closing Ceremony: 3:30PM-3:50PM
LeFrak Concert Hall
Musical Performance by Excelsior Preparatory High School
Musical Performance of Peace and Songs by High School Choir of Excellence Preparatory High School
Closing Remarks: Dean Craig Michaels, Division of Education
Dr. John Kuo Wei (Jack) Tchen
Jack Tchen is a facilitator, teacher, historian, curator, re-organizer, and dumpster diver. He works on understanding the multiple presents, pasts, and futures of American cities and metropolitan areas, identity formations, trans-local cross-cultural communications, archives and epistemologies, and progressive pedagogy. He also works on decolonizing Eurocentric ideas, theories, and practices and making our cultural organizations and institutions more representative and democratic.
Professor Tchen is the founding director of the Asian/Pacific/American (A/P/A) Studies Program and Institute at New York University and part of the original founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian.
He is author of the award-winning books New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) and Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown, 1895-1905 (Dover Publications, 1984). He is the co-author, along with Dylan Yeats, of Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear, which was published by Verso in 2014. Professor Tchen is now working on a book about New York City that focuses on the unrecognized tradition of intermingling people, creativity, and improvisation among everyday residents. He regularly collaborates with filmmakers and media producers, artists and collectors, and, through the A/P/A Institute, sponsors and produces hundreds of programs and performances.
Professor Tchen has been building research collections of Asians in the Americas for over three decades. In doing so, he has critically examined practices of collecting and archiving to make sense of how we come to know what we know and don't know. He was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities and in 2012 received the NYU MLK Jr Humanitarian Award. He is co-principle investigator of the report “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: Facts, Not Fiction - Setting the Record Straight,” produced with The College Board. He is currently co-chairing the effort at the Smithsonian Institution to form an Asian Pacific American Center. Most recently, he co-curated the Museum of Chinese in America’s core exhibition, With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America, in a space designed by Maya Lin, and served on New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers.
Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz
Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz (Ph.D., New York University) is as an Associate Professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Yolanda is former Research Associate with the NYU Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, and has worked for Business Week, The New York Times, and New York University in Marketing and Promotion positions. Her research interests include racial literacy development in urban teacher education (with a specific focus on the education of Black and Latino males), literacy practices of Black girls, and Black female college reentry students.
Yolanda’s work has appeared in several top-tier academic journals. Yolanda is co-editor of three books including (with Chance W. Lewis and Ivory A. Toldson Teacher Education and Black Communities: Implications for Access, Equity, and Achievement (IAP). At Teachers College, she is founder and faculty sponsor of the Racial Literacy Roundtables Series where for ten years, national scholars, doctoral, and pre-service and in-service Master’s students, and young people facilitate informal conversations around race and other issues involving diversity and teacher education for the Teachers College / Columbia University community. She is also the co-founder of the Teachers College Civic Participation Project which concerns itself with the educational well-being of young people involved with the juvenile justice and foster care systems in New York.
Yolanda and two of her students appeared in Spike Lee’s “2 Fists Up: We Gon’ Be Alright” (2016), a documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement and the campus protests at Mizzou.
Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants. He is the founder of Define American, the nation’s leading non-profit media and culture organization that fights injustice and anti-immigrant hate through the power of storytelling. His memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was published by HarperCollins in fall 2018.
In 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story he wrote. He then produced and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. It aired on CNN, streamed on Netflix, and received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. Also in 2015, MTV aired White People, an Emmy-nominated television special he produced and directed on what it means to be young and white in a demographically-changing America.
Among accolades he has received are: The Salem Award from the Salem Award Foundation, which draws upon the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692; the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA; and honorary degrees from Colby College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Passionate about the role of arts in society and promoting equity in education, he serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students.
A product of the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a proud graduate of San Francisco State University (’04), where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012, and Mountain View High School (’00).
An elementary school named after Vargas will open in his hometown of Mountain View, California in 2019.
Jin Park is a recent graduate of Harvard University where he studied molecular and cellular biology with a minor in ethnicity, migration, and rights. He is a DACA recipient from South Korea and has resided in Queens ever since he first moved to the US. This past December, he was elected as a Rhodes Scholar in District 3 (NY-South) as the first DACA recipient to be awarded a Rhodes. As a Rhodes Scholar, he hopes to pursue a doctorate in political theory and come back to serve the immigrant community.
Dr. Cheryl E. Matias
Dr. Cheryl E. Matias is an Associate Professor in the School of Education & Human Development (SEHD) at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research focuses on race and ethnic studies in education with a theoretical focus on critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, critical pedagogy and feminism of color. Specifically, she uses a feminist of color approach to deconstruct the emotionality of whiteness in urban teacher education and how it impacts urban education. Her other research interest is on motherscholarship and supporting woman of color and motherscholars in the academy. A former K-12 teacher in both South Central, Los Angeles Unified School District and Bed-Stuyvesant, New York City Department of Education, she earned her bachelors in cultural communication from University of California San Diego, teaching credential at San Diego State University, and her masters in Social and Multicultural Foundations at California State University, Long Beach. She earned her doctorate at UCLA with an emphasis in race and ethnic studies in education. She delivers national talks and workshops on whiteness, racial justice, and diversity. She was awarded the 2014 American Educational Research Association’s Division K (Teacher Education) Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education Award and the 2015 and 2017 Colorado Rosa Parks Diversity Award. In 2015, she was awarded Researcher of the Year by the School of Education & Human Development at University of Colorado Denver. In 2016 she was awarded the university’s 2016 Graduate School’s Dean Mentoring Award. Some of her publications can be found in Race, Ethnicity, and Education, Teacher Education Quarterly, Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, Equity and Excellence, Journal of Teacher Education and Multicultural Perspectives. Recently, she finished her first solo-authored book entitled Feeling White: Whiteness, Emotionality, and Education which just earned the 2017 Honorable Mention for the Society of Professors of Education. She is a motherscholar of three, including boy-girl twins, an avid Lakers fan, and Bachata ballroom dancer.
Dr. Nolan Cabrera
Dr. Nolan Cabrera is a nationally-recognized expert in the areas of racism/anti-racism on college campuses, whiteness, and ethnic studies. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona, and was the only academic featured in the MTV documentary White People.
He has given hundreds of lectures, keynote addresses, and trainings, throughout the country on challenging racism/whiteness, working through unconscious bias, creating inclusive college campuses, and the expansion of ethnic studies programs. Dr. Cabrera was an expert witness in the Tucson Unified Mexican American Studies case (Arce v. Douglas), which is the highest-profile ethnic studies case in the country’s history.
Dr. Cabrera's new book, White Guys on Campus: Racism, White Immunity, and the Myth of "Post-Racial" Higher Education, is a critical examination of race in higher education, centering whiteness, in an effort to unveil the frequently unconscious habits of racism among white male undergraduates. Dr. Cabrera moves beyond the “few bad apples” frame of contemporary racism, and explores the structures, policies, ideologies, and experiences that allow racism to flourish. He calls upon institutions of higher education to be sites of social transformation instead of reinforcing systemic racism, while creating a platform to engage and challenge the public discourse of “post-racialism.”
Dr. Cabrera is an award-winning scholar whose numerous publications have appeared in some of the most prestigious journals in the fields of education and racial studies. He completed his graduate work at UCLA in Higher Education and Organizational Change and earned his BA from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (Education focus).
Faculty, Facilitators, and Volunteers
Dean Craig A. Michaels
Dr. Craig A. Michaels is the Dean of the Division of Education and a Professor of Special Education at Queens College, City University of New York. He has a strong commitment to urban public education, diversity, equity, and social justice. Dr. Michaels’ scholarship focus on understanding and influencing the social, political, educational, and economic ramifications of disability; and interpreting disability within the context of a diversity paradigm as socially constructed. As Dean he is working to strategically engaging, challenging, and nurturing faculty and staff to work with each other and the College’s school and community partners to (a) advance scholarship on research validated instructional practices and support for promoting equity, excellence, and ethics in urban schools and communities; and (b) proactively create a shared vision for the future in which all New York City Public Schools are staffed with highly effective and diverse educational professionals who engage in critical, culturally sustaining pedagogical practices that promote the learning and wellbeing of all P-12 students.
Dr. Judy W. Yu
Dr. Judy W. Yu is a Scholar Activist, Educator, and the Project Director of the Teacher Opportunity Corp. Program and Faculty at Queens College in the City of New York. Dr. Yu utilizes critical multicultural education and theory to conduct research on the challenges of curriculum and instructions with students and community stakeholders in K-12 schools in order to create educational change. As a former elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she has developed an Asian American Studies program for students that utilizes the power of their lived experiences, narratives, and personal artifacts as bodies of scholarship in re-telling our American history.
Dr. Yu was an Education Advisor to the National Endowment for Humanities at the Museum of Chinese in America and a former professional staff developer at Bank Street College of Education. Her work has been published in Rowman and Littlefield, Center for Asian American Media, and Teachers College Press (forthcoming). Dr. Yu is a recipient of several honors and awards including the 2016 Education Research Project Service Award, American Educational Research Association (AERA); 2011 Outstanding Dissertation Award, Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans, AERA; 2007 Elihu Rose Fellowship, Columbia University; 2005 Spencer Foundation Research Grant; 2005 President’s Diversity and Community Initiatives Grant, Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Yu received her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dean Michael Wolfe
Michael Wolfe is professor of history and Dean of Social Sciences at Queens College. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and B.A. from Boston University. A specialist of early modern European history, his studies include works on the intersection between politics and religious belief, technology and craft practices, cities and siege warfare, and landscapes and cartography. He has published extensively on these topics, including some thirty articles and essays as well as eight books. Among his most recent titles are Recovering 9/11 in New York (2014), Natalie Zemon Davis and the Passion of History (2009), Walled Towns and the Shaping of France (2009), and Senses of Place: Inventing Landscapes in Medieval Western Europe (2002). In addition, he is involved in a number of editing ventures, serving as chief review editor for H-France and series editor for Early Modern Studies & Translations published by Truman State University Press.
Ms. Aliyah Baksh
Aliyah Baksh is a sophomore at Queens College and is in the process of completing a double major. She is studying Psychology and Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She is currently working as an intern at the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at Queens College. She loves working in that space because she is learning critical skills as well as developing her professional and personal self. She is passionate about becoming an elementary school teacher and brightening the lives of her students. She volunteers at her local mosque as a teacher of Arabic and Islamic Studies to a group of wonderful kids. She also helps by event coordinating and co-facilitating the annual summer camp and other programs. Aliyah is a CISCO certified Network Technician, and doubles as a web designer. Aliyah is in the process of writing her very first children’s book with the help of one of the most inspiring people in her life, her father.
Dr. Limarys Caraballo
Dr. Limarys Caraballo is Associate Professor of English Secondary Education at Queens College-CUNY and consortium faculty in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. As Senior Research Fellow of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, she co-directs Cyphers for Justice, an inter-generational program that supports art, research, and activism with youth and preservice educators. Limarys’ research interests include students’ multiple identities and literacies, academic achievement, youth participatory action research, and preparing teachers to teach English in diverse sociocultural contexts. As a former English teacher, administrator, and consultant in public and private secondary schools, she is especially interested in culturally sustaining and socially-just literacy curricula and pedagogies. Her research focuses on re-framing deficit conceptions of lower-income students of color and advancing the theory and development of curricula, pedagogies in K-12 and teacher education that support the multiple identities and literacies of minoritized students.
Mr. William Anders
William Anders is a Trenton, NJ native who shares the same motto as his beloved alma mater Clark Atlanta University, “I’ll Find a Way or Make One”. As the Associate Director of NYC Men Teach at the City University of New York, and with over 19 years of experience in student engagement in higher education, he is no stranger to the hard work and commitment it takes within the field of diversity and inclusion. William is an active member in his community and dedicated member of 100 Black Men of New York and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Ms. Vanessa Leung
Vanessa Leung joined CACF as Co-Executive Director in April 2017. She has served the education community through her career, advocating on behalf of Asian Pacific American students and Multilingual Learners in New York City public schools. She was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the the Panel for Educational Policy and has been Chair of the PEP since January 2014. She currently also sits on the Advisory Panel for the Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education.
Prior to returning to CACF, she was the Director of Member Initiatives at FPWA, where she was responsible for membership recruitment and engaging 200 community based and faith based member organizations, and worked with a team to provide professional development, grants, and other resources to support and strengthen nonprofits throughout the City.
While Deputy Director for CACF, she was responsible for the development of a pan-Asian children’s advocacy agenda to improve policies, funding, and services for the Asian Pacific American community. As Education Policy and Program Coordinator of CACF, she authored Hidden in Plain View, a report detailing Asian and Pacific American students’ needs, and worked alongside other advocates on the creation of Chancellor’s Regulation A-663, mandating comprehensive interpretation and translation services, as well as the Dignity in All Schools Act which reduces bias-based harassment in schools. Vanessa spearheaded a high school youth leadership project, the Asian American Student Advocacy Project (ASAP) that trains a diverse group of high school students on policy advocacy.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Dr. Karla Rose Manning
Dr. Karla Rose Manning is a full-time Lecturer at Queens College in the Elementary & Early Childhood Education Department. She is also the Director of the Big Buddy Program, which is a service-learning program at Queens College with a mission to mentor, inspire, and educate children who are experiencing urban homelessness. Her teaching and academic interests emphasize the importance of equity-based and culturally relevant pedagogies for children attending urban schools. Specifically, her research examines the impact of mentorship on academic achievement for homeless youth in urban spaces. Her research also highlights the voices of Black girls who are homeless, while examining the ways they use restorative literacy and healing-centered practices to promote personal resiliency and agency. Dr. Manning was a former high school English teacher in Chicago Public Schools and received her PhD in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys yoga, green smoothies, and brunch on the weekends.
Dr. Desiree Byrd
Desiree Byrd, PhD, ABPP is a board-certified neuropsychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at Queens College. Her research focuses on cognitive health disparities, culture and the training of professionals who work with vulnerable populations.
Dr. Leslee Grey
Dr. Leslee Grey is a faculty member in the Department of Secondary Education and Youth Services at Queens College, the City University of New York. Her teaching is grounded in critical perspectives of teaching, learning, and educational policy. Dr. Grey's recent scholarship includes critical analysis of the role that media have in the formation of educators’ identities. Her current research investigates teacher dispositions and teaching and learning in early childhood STEM education.
Ms. Yael Rosenstock
Yael Rosenstock is the Associate Director of the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding at Queens College, a non-profit dedicated to non-violent communication and equity. She uses the epistemology of participatory action research (PAR) across her work, including for an annual Social Justice and Leadership College Now course. She also co-founded QC Sexploration and Information Group, a PAR inspired peer sex education and research team at Queens College that collects research and hosts events for the community.
Recently, Yael started her own company dedicated to identity work and sex positivity, Kaleidoscope Vibrations, LLC (KV), and published her first book, An Intro-Guide to a Sex Positive You: Lessons, Tales, and Tips. As a publisher, she seeks authors whose voices and topics are often left out of the mainstream. Currently, she is collecting narratives for two anthologies and working on a collaborative body positive photo-interview series entitled Diverse Bodies Project for KV's next book.
Dr. Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac
Dr. Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac is currently serving as an Assistant Principal at Northern Parkway Elementary School in Uniondale, New York. She is the founder of The Dreamkeepers, an innovative school program design based on the research work of Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker and Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings. The program design will follow six classroom teachers and a cohort of 110 students throughout a four-year educational commitment in a public school system. The goal is to disrupt the status quo based on the traditional grade level trajectory of students and to build a community of learners, educators, and family members that will hold each other accountability from second through fifth grade. Follow The Dreamkeepers on Twitter @7dreamkeepers.
Dr. Lorraine Falchi
Lorraine Falchi is a white, anti-racist educator focused on building relationships and capacities to work with multilingual children in inclusive educational settings. She is an early childhood education coach and educational consultant. She has been director of a dual language preschool and bilingual educator. She teaches courses in language and literacy, curriculum, inquiry, and pedagogy. Her educational research focuses on children's multimodal and multilingual literacy practices. She completed her doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching at Columbia, Teachers College.
Dr. Shinhee Han
Shinhee Han, Ph.D. is a senior psychotherapist at the New School University's Counseling Services, an adjunct professor at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University and in private practice in New York City. Her clinical specializations include Asian and Asian American as well as POC mental health, transnational adoptees, LGBT population and college students with identity, depression and anxiety. Previously, Dr. Han worked on the staff of counseling services at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Barnard College and Columbia University. Dr. Han is a founding member of the Asian Women Giving Circle, a New York City philanthropic fund supporting Asian women artists involved with social justice. She is the co-author with David L. Eng on Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the social and psychic lives of Asian Americans by Duke University Press, 2019.
Dr. Mica McGriggs
Dr. Mica McGriggs is a Staff Psychologist and the Coordinator for Mental Health Equity at The New School. Dr. McGriggs' joined Student Health Services in 2018 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University, where she studied the somatic embodiment of racial trauma. Working through the lens of critical consciousness Dr. McGriggs has a passion for bringing her knowledge of social trauma to both her clinical work as well as pedagogical program development.
Mr. Narine Bharat
Narine Bharat is the Support Services Liaison for the Queens South NYCDOE Borough Office where he is responsible for coordinating initiatives. He has had many roles during his 16 plus years in the NYCDOE: teacher, achievement coach, mentor, science coordinator and assistant principal. Prior to his work in education, Narine worked in the Biotech industry as a Molecular Biologist with Columbia University, Regeneron and Vitex.
Ms. Denis Yu
Denis Yu is a Program Coordinator at CACF, the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. She works with CACF's Asian Pacific American (APA) youth leadership program ASAP, the Asian American Student Advocacy Project, which trains APA youth in NYC to be social justice leaders who challenge APA stereotypes and fight for equity in schools."
Mr. Taylor McGraw
After teaching for five years in Harlem and Brooklyn, Taylor McGraw left the classroom in 2017 to help launch The Bell.
A fierce advocate for student voice, he collaborates with high school interns to produce the
Miseducation podcast and serves as an adviser to Teens Take Charge. His writing has appeared in USA Today, The Hechinger Report and Narratively.
In his spare time, he works on a book about a summer he spent playing chess with men in Washington Square Park.
He earned a B.A. in Public Policy Leadership from the University of Mississippi, an M.A. in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School. He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi.
Ms. Michelle Coleman
Michelle Coleman (she/they) is a second-year English educator as well as an MAT student at Queens College. Michelle is dedicated to incorporating social justice issues in the secondary ELA classroom. She aspires to one day create a support network for LGBTQ+ educators, which could provide teachers with everything from lesson plan materials to financial assistance.
Ms. Allison Van Deven
Allison Van Deven is a soon-to-be Queens College graduate with a BA in English Education 7-12. Described by professors as “a voice that is strongly feminist and also intellectually complex”, Allison takes pride in rooting her teaching philosophies in feminist theory. Further, her practice is utmost inspired by critical pedagogy. She is honored to partake as a facilitator in the Race, Identity, and Liberation Conference. Allison encourages all educators to act as advocates for their students in the classroom and beyond. In the words of Freire, “The educator has the duty of not being neutral.”
Mr. Sm Morshed
Sm Morshed will soon be graduating from Queens College with a Bachelor’s in English 7-12. Sm is a blunt and straightforward person with his thoughts and his opinions. He always makes sure to listen to the other person and allows them to speak before giving his own input. He is honored to be a facilitator in the Race, Identity, and Liberation conference.
Teacher Opportunity Corp Team (TOC)
Dr. Judy Yu
Teacher Opportunity Corp. Program
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