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Office of the Vice President for Research

Racial Justice and Equity Research Fund

The University of South Carolina is committed to ending racial injustice, racism and discrimination while promoting racial equity and racial justice throughout society. The Office of the Vice President for Research, working in collaboration with the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, are proud to support the Racial Justice and Equity Research Fund to support research that centers on race, racial justice and racial equity.

By empowering our world-class faculty with Racial Justice and Equity Research funding to support their racial justice and equity research projects, the University of South Carolina aims to promote real and lasting racial justice in our local community, our state and our nation. 

This 2020 research initiative provides funding for activities including, but not limited to:

  • Developing new, innovative research or scholarly projects to deepen understanding of the ways race, racism and racial prejudice function in society and generate substantive advancements for racial equity or racial justice
  • Taking existing research and scholarship on racial equity and justice in a new direction
  • Organizing a conference or meeting with the goals of generating information on effective practices and gathering innovative ideas


2020 Racial Justice and Equity Research Fund Projects

Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PIs Project Title Project Abstract Keywords
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PI: Armstead, Cheryl, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

Co-PI: Chen Liang, Health Services Policy & Management, Arnold School of Public Health
Toward Validating a Tool to Measure Distrust of COVID-19 Inoculation Programs Among African Americans This project will address racial disparities in COVID-19 mitigation, while being highly responsive to the UofSC’ commitment to health equities and social justice. There is no empirical tool to document AAs’ collective voices regarding distrust of impending accelerated COVID-19 inoculation programs. The project focuses on exploratory and confirmatory validation of culturally-informed psychometric tool to: 1) analyze social media and incorporate community feedback to perform qualitative item development, 2) to understand the determinants of accelerated vaccination programs, and 3) document and disseminate data regarding AA to the scientific community and AA community stakeholders as an empirical contribution to action research. Project outcomes will result in a validated, easy to administer tool to characterize AA distrust of inoculation programs. By coalescing teams of faculty and community stakeholders to guide validation, we will contribute to the understanding of vaccine program uptake distrust among AAs and other demographic groups. It will be directly applicable to research, social justice advocacy, and intervention development. The project is highly congruent with funding COVID-19 initiatives by external grantors. round 2, round two
PI: Barra, Monica, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, College of Arts and Sciences

Co-PIs: Dean Hardy, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, College of Arts and Sciences
Carolina Center for Environmental Justice Seed Grant The U.S. South has long been the epicenter of movements for environmental justice and scholarly inquiry into the causes and impacts of the disproportionate environmental harms faced by black, brown, and indigenous communities, yet these efforts are not centralized. We propose a one-year study to leverages resources at UofSC to develop a strategic plan for establishing the Carolina Center for Environmental Justice (CCEJ). CCEJ would serve as a hub to connect faculty and students from across UofSC programs and campuses to support research and education that examines environmental inequalities through the lens of racial equity. round 2, round two
PI: Browne, Teri, College of Social Work

Co-PI: Jason Cummings, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences
The Role of Racism, Racial Prejudice, and Discrimination in South Carolina Kidney Transplant Disparities In South Carolina, Black patients are almost half as likely as White patients to receive a kidney transplant, the best treatment for End-Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD). ESKD is a public health crisis, costing Medicare $500.5 billion annually. No previous research has focused on Black ESKD patients' experiences with racism, racial prejudice, and discrimination and their impact on kidney transplant parity. This community-engaged qualitative research project will address this gap in the literature to promote real and lasting racial justice in our local community, our state, and our nation related to kidney transplant racial equity. round 2, round two
PI: Donaldson, Bobby, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences Our Story Matters: A Civil Rights History Podcast The Center for Civil Rights History and Research proposes a work of public history to draw together multiple forms of primary sources and conduct new original research through oral histories to create an audio podcast show—Our Story Matters. The podcast is designed to inform state and national public narratives about racial justice through engaging episodes about South Carolinians who made important, and sometimes decisive, contributions in voting, transportation, education, housing, and labor rights, and protest against racial violence. The podcast format will help the Center expand education for K-12 and university students, stimulate public conversations, and shape policy discussions. round 2, round two
PI: Foster, Kirk, College of Social Work

Co-PI: Joel Samuels, School of Law
Bridging the Divide Between African Americans and Law Enforcement: Root Causes and Successful Initiatives
Police misconduct in America is a significant public health crisis. People of color account for more than 60 percent of unarmed victims in police shootings and African American men are three times as likely to be killed in police shootings as whites. We use social network approaches, community-based model building, and focus groups to examine how community activists build effective networks to reform policing and to explicate the mechanisms necessary to build bridges between police and African Americans. This work will strengthen the capacity of communities to effect police reform by engaging diverse stakeholders to mitigate this epidemic of violence. round 2, round two
PI: Garner, David, School of Music Hearing Data on Racial Health Disparities in the US, the South, and South Carolina: A New Music Composition and Commissioning Project I propose a project in three parts that explores racial equity and justice through the creative arts. Building on previous work on turning data sets into music, I propose (1) a new composition that creates sonic representations of data on racial disparities in health, including the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, and wealth and produce a recording and video, (2) commissioning two BIPOC composers to also write new works around these themes, and (3) a series of four lectures and discussions in departments across the university on the new compositions and a history of protest music by Black classical composers. round 2, round two
PI: Przybysz, Jane, McKissick Museum, College of Arts and Sciences

-Stephen Criswell, Department of Humanities, USC Lancaster
-Courtney Lewis, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
Indigenous Discovery Tour of UofSC's Historic Horseshoe McKissick proposes to document how people for whom Horseshoe buildings are named advanced policies that shaped, and continue to impact, Southeastern Native Americans' experiences. McKissick will collaborate with USC Anthropology faculty and students, USC-Lancaster Native American Studies Center faculty and students, and DeLesslin George-Warren—a Catawba Indian Nation citizen who recently created a similar American Indian policies tour of Presidents' portraits at the Smithsonian National Gallery in Washington, DC. The results of this initial research will be used to script a multimedia Native American tour of the Horseshoe to be launched by December 2021 as a restorative justice intervention. round 2, round two
PI: Swan, Suzanne, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences Understanding Racial Inequities in Healthcare Experiences and Outcomes of COVID-19 Research problem. Black and Latinx Americans are more likely to contract COVID-19, and suffer greater health and financial consequences, than Whites. This study will elucidate the factors that lead to poorer health and financial consequences of COVID-19 for Black and Latinx Americans living in the Southeast. Significance. While health disparities are a longstanding problem, the exact mechanisms driving disparities in COVID-19 are not yet known. Approach and Methods. A survey will be conducted with COVID-19 survivors in the Southeast. Broader Social Impact. Uncovering the mechanisms underlying health disparities in COVID-19 may point to solutions to reduce health disparities more generally. round 2, round two
PI: Weik, Terrance, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences Reparations & Lowcountry Racial Landscapes This archaeological project is one of the first to situate the history of African American reparations within knowledge of racist geographies emerging before, during, after a key period of compensatory justicemaking that unfolded on Hilton Head Island, SC. The goal of this project is to explore ways racism, Black countermeasures, and reparatory actions reshaped places, social practices, and human relations from 1800-2000. A univariate spatial pattern analysis of ancient and modern maps, archival sources, and landscape features is proposed that employs Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This project will help challenge the ongoing processes of land dispossession that have been erasing Black communities and recreational places from a nationally known tourist destination. round 2, round two
PI: Wynter-Hoyte, Kamania, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education

-Gloria Boutte, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education
-Eliza Braden, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education
-Susi Long, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education
-Meir Muller, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education
Countering Anti-Blackness Starts with Our Youngest Children Grounded in the belief that teaching anti-racism means developing abilities to identify racial injustice and building knowledge of Black humanity, thirty family members (two per teacher) will be involved in the study through participation in classroom projects with their children. Black genius, beauty, heritage, oppression, and resistance (rectifying mistaught histories of precolonial and contemporary Africa and African Americans), it is critical that is a long-term educational experience. This study is guided by a Black Emancipatory theoretical framework. Interview data will be audio- recorded and transcribed and coded alongside other data (lesson plans, photos, reflections, and artifacts). Through a program of study centered around an exploration of historical and contemporary issues of race and racism as well as the joys and brilliance of Blackness, the goal of this study is to develop a model to equip teachers and preservice teachers to re-envision equity and impact institutional systems of the future as they raise new generations to embrace Blackness, understand inequity, and know how to stand against it. round 2, round two
PI: Xu, Yanfeng, College of Social Work

Co-PI: Theresa Harrison, Carolina Family Engagement Center, College of Education
Examining Black-White Disparities and Identifying Empowerment Solutions among Custodial Grandparent-Headed Families During COVID-19 in South Carolina: A Mixed-Methods Community-Based Study With support from the Racial Justice and Equity Research Fund, we will conduct a mixed-methods community-based research study in South Carolina to examine White-Black disparities among custodial grandparent-headed families during COVID-19 and identify empowerment solutions to promote racial justice and equity at the system and policy level. To the best of our knowledge, this study will be the first to examine racial disparities in custodial grandparents and their grandchildren in the face of COVID-19. The results of this study will be used to advocate for custodial grandparents, particularly grandparents of color, to increase resources and supports in South Carolina. round 2, round two
PI: Yeargin, Susan, Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health

-Shawn Arent, Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health
-Abbi Lane-Cordova, Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health
Characterization of the Management of Sickle Cell Trait Between HBCU and Non-HBCU Athletic Departments and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Athletes with Sickle Cell Trait Sickle cell trait (SCT) disproportionately affects Black Americans and can be deadly when athletes exercise intensely. Universities may differ in how they manage SCT risks of student-athletes, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, which may be more severe in athletes with SCT. The proposed study will use a survey to identify differences in studentathlete health and performance management practices between HBCU and non-HBCU institutions. A case control study will compare CVD risk in athletes with SCT and matched controls. Results will promote equity of health practices between institutions and determine CVD risk in students with SCT to inform long-term health considerations. round 2, round two
PI: Black, Derek, School of Law The Racial Heritage of Current School Funding Practices  School districts serving the highest percentages of students of color receive $1,800 less per pupil than those serving the fewest students of color. (Education Trust, Funding Gaps: An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the U.S. and Within Each State 3 (2018).) Those funding gaps are a substantial factor in racial achievement gaps between students. (Bruce D. Baker, Albert Shanker Institute, Does Money Matter in Education? (2d ed. 2016).) This project seeks to demonstrate that rather than neutral or inevitable, the funding gaps are the result of constitutional changes implemented by segregationists during the 1890s and 1900s and, thus, are subject to legal attack.  round 1, round one
PI: Freeman, Amie, University Libraries

Andrea L'Hommedieu, University Libraries
Stacy Winchester, University Libraries
Kimberly Simmons, Anthropology
Graham Duncan, South Caroliniana Library
Voices of South Carolina: Black Lives Matter In response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, shortly after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, widespread demonstrations were organized to protest police brutality against people of color and deep-rooted systemic racism in America. South Carolinians spoke out against violence and injustice. This project will collect, archive and spotlight SC experiences in the weeks following George Floyd's death. Additionally, the project will explore factors that led to the most recent events and the impact of the protests. Ultimately, a website will highlight protester stories in a digital environment available to activists, historians, media and the public.  round 1, round one
PI: Isom Scott, Deena, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences

Co-PI: Tia Anderson, Tia, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, College of Arts and Sciences
Removing the Cloak of Whiteness: Status, Entitlement, Privilege and Crime in White America This project applies a critical whiteness studies lens to criminology. Drawing on recent theoretical and empirical investigations, I propose a theoretical model that outlines unique pathways to criminal behavior as well as privileged protections from criminal justice system entanglement for White Americans. This model is empirically assessed utilizing several secondary and primary data sources, including recent nationally representative surveys and a targeted survey of White Americans. With the rapid rise in hate crimes committed by Whites, this research has the potential to provide insight into current social and political tensions and the relationships between race, gender, discrimination, injustice and violence. round 1, round one
PI: Jenkins-Henry, Toby, Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education Racial Violence in Education: Mobile Exhibition Research Project The Museum of Education proposes to mobilize the exhibit, Exploring Racial Violence in Education, and establish travelling residencies at three local middle schools. Data will be collected through interactive exercises embedded within the exhibit (mobile ipad kiosks, smartphone activities using QR codes, written responses on graffiti boards). These activities will examine student and teacher perceptions of how racism functions in schools. This project can offer local and national insight on racism and help educational leaders: (1) locate and confirm its presence (2) understand its personal impact; and (3) develop interventions and policies to eradicate racism and heal racial trauma.  round 1, round one
PI: Martinez, David, Department of Educational Leadership and Policies, College of Education Responding to Inequity: Informing Innovative School Finance Praxis in the Nuevo LatinX Sur During COVID-19 The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic highlights the historical inequities within public schooling. In South Carolina, a Nuevo LatinX Sur destination, these challenges are exacerbated in districts serving higher proportions of LatinX students. To align effective solutions, policymakers must seek nuanced insight from experts to ameliorate inequity, namely educational leaders aware of local challenges. Through this qualitative study we begin a new conversation in South Carolina concerning the care of students, as we seek to develop a specific and actionable set of policy recommendations for a broader social impact in education grounded in educational leadership insight. round 1, round one


Racial Justice and Equity Research Fund Materials



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