HFC’s Tazeen Ayub strikes a “DEAL”
HFC world languages instructor Tazeen Ayub was recently awarded the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) Racial Equity Fellowship, an initiative of the Wayne State University Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.
The Racial Equity Fellowship is a 12-month leadership development fellowship, which welcomes emerging and experienced leaders who have demonstrated a deep commitment to racial equity from all of Detroit’s ethnic and racial groups, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, and backgrounds. Fellows participate in skill-building programs with other Detroit-area racial equity leaders who are dedicated to ending structural racism in Detroit.
“This fellowship addresses racial equity and catalyzes change in various work sectors,” said Ayub, of Detroit. “Each year, the fellowship works with a cohort of fellows from diverse backgrounds in the Detroit area to build and strengthen their skills in racial justice work, deepen relationships with one another, and create a network of individuals committed to addressing and ending structural racism.”
She continued: “One of the most rewarding aspects of this fellowship for me is the meaningful relationships with other fellows and the collaborative work that comes out of those relationships. We’re all from different work and organizational backgrounds, but many of us have overlapping experiences and struggles and there is a lot that we can learn from one another, especially during all our discussion groups at the monthly meetings. We meet once a month for eight hours. Each session builds on the last. There are presentations, discussion groups, and collaborative breakout sessions, along with down time to socialize and share a meal together.”
Striving for racial justice
Because racial justice and racial equity are topics she is passionate about, several friends recommended that Ayub apply for the Racial Equity Fellowship. She is in DEAL’s seventh cohort.
“Getting to know others around the city who value and strive for racial justice in an honest and authentic way, not just to check boxes or quotas, is refreshing, especially when so many of us have been pushing for systemic changes for a long time,” explained Ayub. “It gets exhausting and often frustrating. But being part of a community that understands that and holds a space for support, healing, accountability, and growth is very powerful and emotional – all in a good way.”
Ayub says DEAL’s organizational structure doesn’t follow a corporate model. DEAL is focused on honoring different cultural practices, as well as the land, history, and ancestors.
“They’ve made this process a very personal one because they understand the importance of healing when it comes to racial justice. Organizations often hold Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) sessions that are about numbers and structures – which are important – but fail to have the difficult discussions about how each of us impact or are impacted by these structures in real life. That requires us to take a hard look at ourselves, which is not always easy. But it is a necessary part of racial equity work. I really appreciate the care and intentionality DEAL uses to address these real and relevant issues.”
HFC's community orientation is valuable
Born in Detroit, Ayub is a graduate of Plymouth High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wayne State University in Detroit and her master’s degree in teaching Arabic as a foreign language from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Ayub has taught at HFC since 2012. She spoke about what attracted her to the College.
“It was local and part of a larger community in the Dearborn-Detroit region,” she said. “I also loved the collegiality and support among colleagues. It was something I hadn't experienced at other institutions. I was coming from UM-Ann Arbor, where I really enjoyed teaching, but it didn't feel as community-oriented as HFC.”
For Ayub, the best part about teaching at HFC is being part of a larger community where the students come from all walks of life.
“I have learned so much from my students over this past decade, and I love witnessing what they continue to accomplish after graduating from HFC,” she said. “I also really appreciate working with wonderful colleagues, many of whom are my friends. It's truly inspiring and beautiful when you work with others who really care about social change and how instrumental the classroom is for that.”