I shared this letter earlier this week with my Santa Fe College family. I wanted to also share with other’s so I am including it below with a few slight modifications.
Over that past few days my e-mail inbox has been blowing up with responses to the many events happening around our country that remind us of the ever-present inequities in our society. The senseless murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many before them, that are examples of a society that sees race and skin color, before we see individuals, human beings, and our brothers and sisters. The COVID-19 data that clearly shows inequities in health outcomes for African Americans. The anger and push back to constant repression and hyper diligence required by black folks just to survive in our society as expressed in the protests and marches calling for equity and justice.
As I contemplate my own response to these events, I realize I am experiencing a myriad of emotions; sadness, anger, fear, and discomfort, just to name a few. I am sad for those who have experienced the pain of these inequities and losses. Angry that we are still dealing with gross inequitable treatment of black lives and black bodies. I fear for those who are risking their lives to protest and to bring attention to the fact “Black Lives Matter.” And to say enough is enough. Uncomfortable with the violence that is bringing even more unrest into our communities.
Because I was born white, I don’t have to live with a daily fear that my body, or my family, will be in danger just because of the color of our skin. I can’t even wrap my head around what it must feel like, as a parent or a sibling, to have to worry daily about the safety of those you love. Many in our community have expressed discomfort in knowing what to do, how to act, or how to have conversations about issues of race and racial inequity. As white folks, living in a society that has given us preferential treatment, we need to learn to live with our discomfort. We need to seek it out, and experience it, to get to a place that we can begin to see the experiences of those in our society that don’t enjoy our advantage. Then we need to create change. We need to change how we think, how we act, and most importantly we need to change how our society values black and brown lives. It will take all of us digging deep, learning about race and racial inequities, learning from the experiences of black and brown folks, and making intentional choices to change.
As educators, we have an important role to play in creating this outcome. Every semester a new group of students walk into our classrooms eager to learn. We have an opportunity to ensure that they not only learn about math, science, humanities, and other traditional college disciplines, but that they learn from and about people who come from different backgrounds and that they learn about the inequities experienced in our society by people of color, women, and differently abled individuals. We can help them develop the skills to mitigate unconscious bias and ensure everyone’s voice is valued.
To better prepare our community to lead the way for change, we have coordinated opportunities to learn about racial inequity, unconscious bias, and other factors affecting diversity, equity, and decision making in higher education. We need your commitment to take the time, roll up your sleeves, and join us in making real change.
The community is invited to join us for Measuring Racial Inequity, a Groundwater Approach. This three-hour course provides a framework for measuring and understanding systemic racial inequity in our society.
Tuesday, June 9th 9:00am – noon (via Zoom) – Registration Link