Black Lives Matter: An Open Letter and Resources for Coms Students


Dear COMS Majors,

We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black lives. When we see people of color being impacted the hardest by the pandemic, then see the murder of Floyd by those who are supposed to serve and to protect, and then see peaceful protesters in San Luis Obispo subjected to teargas and rubber bullets as they take a stand for Black lives, it is impossible to ignore the racist policies and systemic structures that continue to wreak havoc on our society.

And while these are just words, the ways in which we talk about race and the work we do on a daily basis matter. As with any one singular action, words are never enough. It is up to us to begin to show up and cultivate more equitable spaces. It is up to us to actively make decisions that are equity based. Otherwise we are getting swept along, as Dr. Tatum refers to it, on the “moving walkway” of racism. If we are not fighting racism every day, we are perpetuating systems of inequity.

As COMS majors, you have been learning about the theories and constructs that make up our Communication Studies discipline—it is important to also apply these tools to help dismantle our racist structures and systems (see NCA’s Officer Letter to Members in Solidarity and Sympathy). That is our charge to you all. What role will you play to break down systemic racism?

But know it's ok, even critical, to check in with yourself and with your communities to reflect, though the call for action is urgent. Real change—a real revolution—will not happen overnight. We need to work on ourselves first; at the same time, call in your own communities to do this work together. We’ve included a resource list below that might help you engage in these difficult conversations with others.

Please reach out if you are looking to discuss, process, or just be in community. Or reach out to one of these resources for support: 

Campus Counseling Services 24/7 Crisis Line (805) 756-2511

SLO Counseling Service at Cal Poly (805) 756-1532

Transitions Mental Health SLO 24/7 Hotline: (800) 783-0607


The faculty and staff in COMS are, as always, here for you.

-COMS Department faculty and staff



Allyship and Educational Resource:

The following link was provided by COMS students:



Floodlines Podcast

*** See the parallels between Hurricane Katrina and Minneapolis behind the racist “looting” narrative



Alexander, M. (2010). The new jim crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness.   ***details our racist legal systems; segregation is replaced with mass incarceration 

Coates, T. (2015). Between the world and me.  ***Coates writes a letter to his son on what it means to be Black in America

DiAngelo, R. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.  ***details behaviors white people use when challenged racially as well as tools for engaging constructively

Delpit, L. (2012). Multiplication is for White people: Raising expectations for other people’s children.  ***Offers accurate accounts following white washed versions of history

Irving, D. (2014). Waking up White  ***helpful narrative of someone who navigated their whiteness and privilege 

Kendi, K. (2019). How to be antiracist.  *** Kendi says every action/every conversation is either racist or antiracist. There is no gray area.

Oluo, I. (2019). So you want to talk about race.

Singleton, G., & Linton, C. (2014). Courageous conversations about race.  ***conversation norms and resources to engaging in discussions about race



The 1619 Project. The New York Times Magazine, 2019. *** A collection of essays and creative works examining the legacies of slavery (from health care system to geography to the arts), on the 400th anniversary of the beginning of US slavery.

Phillips, H. (2020, May 9). “Performative allyship is deadly (Here’s what to do instead).” Forge. Retrieved from

Ramasubramanian, S. (2020, May 31). “White allies: 10 ways to support Black lives (with a bonus tip at the end).” Medium. Retrieved from


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