Dear Wolfpack Community,
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery.
It is important that we speak these beautiful souls’ names.
We call the names of those who have been victims of racism, violence and unjust treatment in this country — a list that is far, far too long — so that we actively reinforce the inherent value of the human lives that these names represent. Saying their names focuses our attention on our shared humanity as we strive for the just society they deserved but did not get — the just society that all souls deserve and that we must demand.
Today, and every day, we denounce racism. We stand with advocates across the country and around the world in speaking out against discrimination in any form, and especially the deadly mixture of racism, violence and hate. We call in all persons of goodwill who join us in building an inclusive environment, at NC State and everywhere. Together we can build a community that fosters true belongingness and recognizes, respects and values people of all backgrounds and experiences.
Our call and commitment, however, cannot exist solely as words on a page. We have to bring them to life, to action, to reality. We cannot wait or sit idly by. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery — and so many others — deserve our active engagement in thinking and doing more, now.
No, these recent incidents did not happen here in Raleigh or on our campus — but that does not mean we cannot unite with the voices of many in speaking out. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
King’s words stir hearts and speak a truth that points to the inextricable connection that we all have to one another. The sad and unacceptable reality is that, despite how many times we call upon such quotes in moments of indescribable pain and grief as a call to action, there is still so much to be done, and still so much pain and not enough change.
I’ve held my head in my hands with the reality of injustice and with the range of emotions present in myself, and I am sure others have too. Shock and sadness. Outrage and heartbreak. Confusion and clarity. Grief and anger. Disgust and bewilderment. Numbness and rage.
In this time of COVID-19, while we profess that “we are all in this together” and that we are trying to shape an aspirational “new normal,” Americans of color are, again, among those disproportionately experiencing hardship. These stark reminders force us to look even more closely at the sharp and jagged contrast of this ever-present truth. The problems we have always faced as a nation are compounded during crisis.
While I write from a place of deep sadness, I also hold strong determination to continue and redouble our efforts toward co-creating a university that lives and breathes inclusion, belonging, equity and justice. We must actively work to eliminate injustice, disrespect, dehumanization and inequality when we see or experience them. This commitment must live as an integrated part of our “Think and Do” spirit.
I want to lift up the statement issued by Nubian Message, in which Nubian expresses “solidarity with the freedom fighters in Minneapolis,” aptly frames and names many of the critical issues and draws attention to the importance of speaking out and taking action.
I also wish to acknowledge and embrace that some of us may need help to process these very difficult events, and some may be seeking ways to educate and inform yourselves about these issues and how you can take positive, informed action or seek support. Below we offer some resources available online. Many of us are working to bring even more resources and action steps to our community soon. Those of us in OIED — including myself personally as vice provost — as well as partners across our university, are here now, and will continue to be here, working on this commitment, every day.
Let us all stand together as we work to build a just and inclusive NC State community, one that does not tolerate unjust or inhumane treatment, and that denounces it, clearly and loudly, when we witness it anywhere in the world.
Our university’s Strategic Planning Task Force for Advancing Diversity, Inclusion and Well-Being is currently engaged in drafting a new vision, a new “normal” for NC State. This work could not be more important right now. We would value your input via the Strategic Plan Task Force website and invite those that are ready and willing to share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Sheri L. Schwab, J.D., M.Ed., ‘97
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Title IX and ADA Coordinator
NC State University
- African American Cultural Center
- GLBT Center
- Multicultural Student Affairs
- Women’s Center
- Bias Impact Response Team
- Equal Opportunity and Equity