Taking Action in Difficult Times

Dear Fellow Patriots:

This has been an awful week for justice. We end it without justice for Breonna Taylor. We end it without Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And we end it with an ominous feeling surrounding next month’s election, regardless of who wins.

If you are feeling some terrible mix of trauma, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness, you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with that. I feel them, too. This is somewhat normal given the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.

It truly has been a disappointing week. We cannot change that. But we cannot afford to give into it, either. In my most difficult times, when I have faced my most significant failures, I have learned to transform my failures and disappointment into fuel, and that fuel into action.

So, let’s talk action.

Over the next few weeks and months, you will see a series of initiatives and programs related to inclusive excellence at Mason. I am asking all of you to get engaged and get involved, as your first task is one of learning and understanding. Toward that end, I am dedicating the first Freedom and Learning Forum of my presidency to a forum on racial justice and inclusion. We need a community conversation – to hear each other, and to speak the full truth about where members of this community remain marginalized, threatened, or traumatized by the current state of affairs. We simply have to get it out on the table. Stay tuned for announcements on when and how this forum will occur.

The Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence that I appointed last month is beginning to take action. The group met again today, and is working at full speed to map out its comprehensive plan to examine George Mason University in order to remake it into an exemplar of anti-racism and inclusive excellence. While there is not much for the eye to see on their progress at this point, know that there are more than 100 individuals hard at work on this initiative. The systemic racism that is preventing the administration of justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor underscores how vital the work of this task force remains.

In addition to learning and engaging as much as you can, please make the commitment to VOTE: While it may sound like a cliché, the closer we get to November 3rd, the more I realize that this is the most consequential election of our time. Election Day is in 38 days, but we can now vote early if we wish. If you are not registered to vote, or if your registration is not current, you have until October 13 to register. You can do so online with the Virginia Department of Elections. If you are registered, you can vote early or absentee if you do not want to wait until Election Day. Whatever your circumstances are: raise your voice with your vote, and make sure every eligible voter around you does the same.

And finally, we all need to take care of ourselves and each other. Feelings of anxiousness, anger, or anxiety are rampant. And they can easily be amplified by the isolation brought on by the pandemic. Seek out help if you need it, and seek the company of those whom you care about. As bad as this week has been, next week – and every “next week” that will follow – gives us renewed hope and opportunity to make things better.

This weekend, rest and be well. Next week, Patriots, we get back to work.


Gregory Washington


Posted in Global and Multicultural Competence, Racial Justice.