When Mills was founded in 1852, just two years after California became a state, it was created to provide opportunities to young, white females, the daughters of prosperous miners. In the last 50 years, Mills has grown into one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country with more than 60% of our population identifying as students of color. In 2017, we became a Hispanic-Serving Institution with more than 25% of our students identifying as Latinx. But impressive diversity numbers are not our measure of success. Our goal is to take proactive action to advance racial justice.
To strengthen our institutional focus on racial justice, the Mills College Board of Trustees adopted a Commitment to Antiracism on October 15, 2020 (excerpt below). This commitment reaffirms our values and will inform our action plans for the future.
It is time to commit to being an antiracist institution. As the work of Black Lives Matter has demonstrated so forcefully, racism in the United States is systemic. We must acknowledge the reality that Mills College is not isolated from the White supremacy that has shaped American society since its founding and continues to this day. We must reckon with our history, find effective ways to react to and repair the damage caused by racist incidents at Mills. Further, we will support faculty and staff as they identify and change policies and practices that yield disparate results for White and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, faculty, and staff on campus, and we will be proactive in developing initiatives that advance our goal to become an antiracist institution.
Antiracism begins with the recognition that explicit and implicit White supremacy, rooted in a fabricated theory of race, has shaped institutions in the United States since its founding. The concept of race has been used for more than 400 years to rationalize colonialism, enslavement, immigration exclusions, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other systems of injustice that betray the vision of a more just society. To achieve structural change in our society, and eradicate anti-Black racism, it is incumbent on every institution to examine its role in perpetuating the racist status quo.