UIC-Partnerships for Anti-racist Campus Transformation (PACT)
"A Driving Force for Culturally and Structurally Aware University-Community Partnerships"
Jennifer Brier, Ph.D., Founding Community Collaboration and Engagement Faculty Fellow, 2021-2022, Director and Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies/University of Illinois Chicago
Gabriela Peña, MPH, Associate Director, UIC-Partnerships for Anti-racist Campus Transformation/University of Illinois Chicago
Alonzo Zamarrón, Graphic Designer/University of Illinois Chicago
Published by Imagining America
Not enough attention or importance is paid to elevating and allocating resources to support these collaborations. Therefore, PACT has, especially through our Pilot Awards, maintained our commitment to listening and learning from community producers of knowledge. Along with continuing our work of supporting knowledge producers beyond academy walls, PACT is continuing to confront and change institutional forms of power and privilege that have traditionally marginalized publicly engaged and activist scholarship. The very essence of our coming together directly confronts institutional forms of power and privilege. We actively engage our members to have necessary conversations about what policies, practices, and norms are complicit in racist praxis, but most importantly, how we can use our existing institutional knowledge and the knowledge of others to combat these phenomena. For example, in our second year, we will focus on how to transform the human resource enterprise at UIC that creates significant obstacles in employing or contracting with community-based partners.
Through PACT’s investment in elevating the work of our Pilot Projects and their community partners, we can shine a light on community expertise while also aiming to bring greater attention to how we can continue to support community art, work, and progress. Each Pilot Project exemplifies the power of community voices and their role as change agents in tackling more significant systemic and structural issues. They all underscore the necessity for universities to acknowledge and amplify research, scholarship, and activism of and from the community.
We have many examples of this from within the PACT network: President Terrance Chism and members of the Chicago 400 Alliance seek transformative justice in reducing and abolishing public conviction registries, banishment laws, and public exclusion zones through advocacy and education. Karie Stewart, UIC faculty, Midwife, founder and CEO of Melanated Midwives, and her team, and UIC faculty and nurse-practitioner Pamela Pearson have developed a new and just paradigm of maternal health care for and by Black people. Equity and Transformation’s Director Richard Wallace’s organization with UIC’s Social Justice Initiative was vital in changing ideas about where intellectual production happens. Professor Saria Lofton’s evaluation work with Openlands and Chicago Grows Food helped her team learn that many grow kit users already had prior knowledge about growing food. Professors Gayatri Reddy and Anna Guevarra documented the power and resistance of racist restrictive covenants faced by Black residents of Chicago’s Winthrop Avenue. Power and knowledge have already existed in these communities, and each project showcases this. We, as academics, must put in the effort to be active listeners and learners alongside our community partners.
Too often, profits are prioritized over shared representation and decision-making, even in the public university. PACT seeks to reimagine and restructure how the university considers its priorities, decision-making processes, and community engagement practices to remedy this issue. When many decision-makers are placing racial equity and anti-racism at the forefront of their respective agendas, we believe that we must use this moment to dismantle our institution’s status quo to better reflect the needs and strengths of communities of color. Given this unique moment in time, PACT is a part of the people’s call for change and transformation — not out of wanting but a necessity.