Today our hearts are burdened, our minds are searching, and our spirits are processing a mix of disbelief, anger and sadness. The news of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on Monday night and the disturbing video of his final moments has shocked the world. Taken in context with the recent killings of Breonna Taylor (by police in her own home) and Ahmaud Arbery (by neighbors while jogging), our black community members, in particular, are outraged, traumatized, fearful and in profound pain.
Grief and concern in their purest forms have been made even more poignant during this time of great uncertainty due to the global public health crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has magnified the long history of racism in our country, ongoing inequity, and the status quo of the dehumanization of our fellow Black Americans.
How do we react? What do we do? Where do we start?
We begin by extending our sincere, heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. We join in mourning their unspeakably tragic and untimely deaths. We stand in solidarity with our black family, friends and neighbors in their time of need and help them shoulder their everyday lives so that they have the necessary time to mourn and process the deeper meanings of these losses. And most importantly, no matter how painful, difficult or uncomfortable, we must review these events with full transparency and recognize there are systemic problems in our society that desperately need our attention, time and energy to remedy.
We must recognize the violation of human rights and the devastating effects that systemic racism, oppression and violence have on the safety, security and health of communities of color. We cannot let these acts be normalized or allow ourselves to become numb to them. The University of California San Diego unequivocally condemns the disproportionate use of excessive force by some police in communities of color.
We also denounce vigilante acts that terrorize members of the community based upon race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We as a community must not and will not tolerate acts of hate, bias or violence. We are committed to doing what can be done within our institution to make sure everyone feels that they belong and that they matter. This should be our commitment to ourselves and to each other.
Where do we go from here?
In the coming weeks, our Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has planned community conversations to provide spaces for healing and identifying ways to be agents of change in this moment. Details are forthcoming and will be communicated via campus notice.
We know that statements such as these do not resolve the intractable issues we face as a country. We know it does not even begin to heal the hurt and trauma caused by structural and systemic racism and discrimination. Collectively, let us continue to work together for a more just, equitable and humane society in our service, activism, pedagogy, and community and collaborative efforts.