|Dear SDSU Community,
Our hearts ache with sorrow and outrage as we witness, yet again, the ongoing disregard
for human life and human dignity. The overt racism in our society only seems more
harrowing because video recordings captured several more cases in which unarmed African-American
men and women were killed while engaged in mundane, daily activities, even near and
in the privacy of their homes.
As you read this, I urge you to say their names aloud:
Their lives and their names matter, as do the many others who, over generations, have
been killed, often without a video recording to document their anguish. Their deaths
remind us of an undeniable truth: Racism is alive and well in our country, and it
touches the very people we care about — our family, friends, our classmates, our peers,
and our neighbors. I remain deeply troubled by these deaths and by other racist actions
that could yield more harm and pain. I will never, ever, stand down in my assertion
that we must each condemn the systemic racism that both enables and protects these
vile acts of violence and disregard for human life.
- George Floyd was killed after a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday pinned him
down by the neck.
- Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death in Georgia while jogging after being followed by armed white residents
in an Atlanta-area neighborhood, a location only miles from his own home.
- Breonna Taylor was killed in Kentucky, in March, when police entered her Louisville home, without
knocking and without any other warning, and shot her.
We must do better and be better, and we will.
During the week of June 1, our SDSU community will host five healing circles as well
as a teach-in. The events are as follows:
- Community Circles for Allies. Three community circles for the SDSU community will be held on Monday and Tuesday
of this week. These circles will be led by Nola Butler Byrd, Associate Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, in partnership with therapists
from Counseling & Psychological Services. The dates, times, and access links are as
below. Participants will need to sign in to their SDSU Zoom account to access.
- Community Wide Teach-In. A teach-in will be held on Thursday, June 4 at 10am. This online event is titled,
“Teaching and Supporting Black Students: Advancing Student Needs in Times of Racial
Crisis.” This event will be hosted by Feion Villodas, Chair of the Professors of Equity. The event will feature a presentation by Frank Harris III, Professor of Postsecondary Education and closing remarks by Tonika Green, Charles Bell Scholar and Professor of Counseling and School Psychology. Video testimonies
from SDSU students will be interwoven throughout. These testimonies are being coordinated
by Christian Holt, Associated Students President. This event is open to all SDSU faculty and staff.
The link for this event is: https://SDSU.zoom.us/j/99520388612
The following additional events will be held:
- A healing circle will be held by the Black Resource Center on Monday, June 1, at 1
p.m for students (contact [email protected] for details).
- A healing circle will be held for SDSU’s Employee Resource Groups serving our Black
faculty and staff on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 7pm. These include, but are not limited
to, members of the Black Faculty Staff Association, Black Male Network, and Black
Women in Academia groups (contact [email protected] for details).
I send my deepest gratitude to J. Luke Wood, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity, and Christy Samarkos, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs (outgoing), who quickly organized members
of our community in response. I also appreciate others who have been deeply involved
in the planning. They include (and by no ways are limited to):
- Nola Butler-Byrd, Vice Chair of the University Senate
- Jessica Nare, Associate Chief Diversity Officer for Student Success
- Bonnie Reddick, the Black Resource Center director
- Antionette Marbray, Associate Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity
- Raquel Herriott, Public Relations, University Police
- Joshua Mays, Chief, University Police
- Ahliyah Chambers, Assistant Director, Black Resource Center
- Randall Timm, Assistant Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students
- Jennifer Rikard, Director, Counseling & Psychological Services
Mere words without action are futile. Know that decisive steps to heal our community
and right the wrongs against our Black community members, and our communities of color,
will continue and increase. I urge each of you to live through love. It is the first
step to counter unacceptable, and equally painful, forms of racial bias and violence
within our community.
In closing, I turn to those who have been hurt, violated, or also denied an opportunity
because of your name, your identity or skin color, who have endured unnecessary harassment
and humiliation while in public spaces, and who have been told to return to a country
in which you have never lived. These hate-motivated acts are not normal. They are
not your fault. They are not acceptable.