area coordinator for Residential Life, helped develop a campus-wide
anti-racism discussion board. He also works with the student residents of
West College, Clark Hall and Fauver Apartments.
Uprooting Racism through Education, Discussion
|Growing up in
southern Texas, Brandon Buehring was taught by his elders, teachers and
textbooks that he was living in a post-Civil-Rights-movement racial utopia.
Meanwhile, all of his Mexican-American classmates, whose family trees
stretched down at least three centuries in to America’s soil, were
struggling with the state’s educational system and government. They were
treated, he explains, like invaders.
At the time, Buehring chose to believe that these families weren’t trying
hard enough to do better for themselves. But that all changed when every-day
activists – friends, professors, authors, supervisors and even strangers -
encouraged him to open his heart and think critically about his own identity
and the country’s institutions.
As an area coordinator for the Office of Residential Life, Buehring wants to
also help members of the Wesleyan community tap into their capacity for
empathy while challenging their assumptions about race and systems of power
With the help of his colleagues he has developed an online vehicle titled
“Uprooting Racism,” to help people process the ideas and theories they are
hearing in classes and at campus events, and then work together to bring
actions to those ideas.
The Wesleyan community can join the discussions and check out the project’s
Web resources by logging in to Wesleyan’s Blackboard Learning Systems at
www.wesleyan.edu/reslife/uprootingracism.htm and type “Uprooting
Racism” in the search box.
“I believe that racism is tightly woven into the fabric of this country and
that it is still very much working to destroy the lives of people of color
here and abroad,” Buehring says. “This is not a belief that people in this
country like to consider. It was certainly a belief that I refused to
consider for most of my life.”
The online discussion Buehring has created seeks to engage members of the
Wesleyan community in a critical examination of their racial identities and
their positions within an intricate system of racial power and oppression in
the United States.
The process began when an Uprooting Racism planning committee convened in
July. Soon after, potential staff and student collaborators were contacted
in late August and early September to get feedback on the project and help
to generate interest and support. In late September, a steering committee
was formed. They meet about once a month.
The Uprooting Racism Steering Committee consists of Buehring, Rich DeCapua,
Dawn Brown, Eric Heng, Maureen Isleib, Robin Hershkowitz, Sharise Brown,
Frances Koerting from the Office of Residential Life; Leilani Kupo and
Nicole Chabot from Student Activities and Leadership Development; Dianna
Dozier from the Office of Affirmative Action; Lucy Diaz from Academic
Affairs; Marina Melendez of Graduate Student Services and residential
advisors Iris Jacob ‘06, Lashawn Springer ‘08, and Celia Reddick ’06.
“The project will very much be a work-in-progress for the rest of the
academic year and one of the steering committee's main responsibilities will
be continually assessing in which ways the project needs to grow to more
closely meet our goals,” Buehring says.
Committee member Melendez admires her colleague’s involvement.
“Brandon is a good person to work with, and has a compassion and clear
understanding of what his role is,” Melendez says. “He understands that he
must fight racism by opening dialogue for all people. He is not just a
bystander. He is a real activist."
Overseeing the Uprooting Racism project is just one part of Buehring’s busy
day. As an area coordinator, he works with the residents of West College,
Clark Hall and Fauver Apartments. He spends his days meetings with
colleagues, students and project committees, and during the evening, he
gathers with his 18 residential advisors and student residents.
“Being an area coordinator really means connecting students with campus
resources and helping build enjoyable, respectful, engaged and accountable
residential communities,” he says. “We work hard to infuse our communities
with the idea that education is an everyday, life-long process that requires
self-accountability, respectful conduct and critical optimism.”
Buehring holds a bachelor’s of art in cinema and studio art from Southern
Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a master’s of education in
counseling from North Carolina State University. He came to Wesleyan in
“I felt that my own values matched up with Wesleyan’s educational and
community values,” he says. “I had also faced a lot of homophobia and
persecution in all previous communities and was looking for a home and
working environment that would be much more welcoming.”
Buehring, of Middletown, enjoys practicing Buddhism, crafting, knitting and
reading non-fiction books about politics and education.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection