Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:
The centuries of racial, social, economic and political injustices in our country are clearly not resolved. Evidence of this reality continues to be brought into focus with the senseless slaying of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia; the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville; the untrue and racially motivated accusation of violence against Christian Cooper in New York City; and most recently, the heartbreaking and horrifying killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, these are only the more recent examples of the violent consequences of social injustices and racist ideologies that we all need to confront and commit to eliminate.
As we move forward, I want to remind everyone, that while we all find these events despicable and terrifying, they are all too real for our African American colleagues, students, friends and family members. For them these current events are painful reminders of actual wearing and frightening life experiences. I want to acknowledge these feelings as real and valid. I encourage all of us to show care and support to these individuals both personally and through our firm commitment to stand against racism and social injustices wherever these are found. I also encourage each one of us to find ways to actively support the peaceful dialogue and engagement that is needed to lead to true transformative change. It is now clearer than ever, that this change is not about what others do—it is about what we all do.
Although the path toward change is not yet clear, each of us can begin the journey by considering how we contribute to the current context through our tolerance of inequities and silence when injustices occur. This review of long held patterns of inaction is not an easy dialogue to start, but no one can doubt that we need to engage in the intentional conversations and actions that will address violence against persons of color and bring health, healing and inclusive equity to our communities, our country and the world.
As one next step to support this dialogue, each department in the School of Behavioral Health will be scheduling a Town Hall Zoom meeting where faculty, students and staff can share. The schedule of each of these meetings will be emailed to you by your department leadership.
Finally: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." —Margaret Mead
God bless you all,
Dr. Bev Buckles, Dean