I was outraged when I saw the video of George Floyd’s murder. I’ve struggled with meaningful words this weekend. The imperative for racial justice is as necessary now as it’s ever been, but I’ve been frustrated by the same messages for change. We’ve been here before. Just last month, I posted a message about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Since then, we’ve seen the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, as well as the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on black and brown communities. The outrage and pain are palpable. It is evident in the tears and protests occurring across the country.
Mason’s mission – ‘We are an inclusive academic community committed to creating a more just, free, and prosperous world’ – can not fully be realized until we come to terms with systemic racism and the racial injustice that continues to result from it.
The call to all of us in higher ed:
In addition to our words, Center our work and our investments on racial justice and racial healing. Move beyond allyship into accompliceship. Those of us with privilege must use that privilege in service of equity and equality.
In addition to our words, Center our work with students who are disproportionately affected by racial injustice, knowing that all of us, all of our students, pay a price for systemic racism and white supremacy.
In addition to our words, Center our commitment as a research intensive university committed to civic engagement on the research and action necessary to dismantle systemic racism.
Use our words to reflect and act, both personally and professionally, on our commitment to anti-racism advocacy.
Last semester, Mason applied to become the site for a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center. We received this designation by the American Association of Colleges and Universities as one of twenty universities across the country with a center. We are the only university in Virginia with this designation. We know we have work to do. If you are interested in joining our movement for racial justice and healing, contact Creston C. Lynch, Ph.D., Associate Dean, University Life.
Finally, I’m recalling Dr. Gail Christopher’s words when she led several of us through a racial healing training earlier in the spring semester – “We must dispel the false belief in a hierarchy of human value and replace that archaic notion with a reverence and appreciation for the equal and interconnected nature of the human family.”
Vice President of University Life