Racial Injustice and Violence

Content Warning: Trauma

May 29, 2020

Dear members of the Mount Holyoke community, 

I write to you with a heavy heart as we once again face reminders that the struggle to combat racial oppression is far from over. Last week, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion organized a racial healing vigil, co-sponsored by the Division of Student Life. This racial healing vigil focused on education about racial injustices and aimed to heal our hearts after having just witnessed the brutal and violent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor and Sean Reed. 

This week we are confronted with the killings of George Floyd and Tony McDade, and watching resistance movements across the nation as people come to terms with the pain of these ongoing tragedies. The cases are varied and involve people across the gender diversity spectrum, but the common thread is that they are all Black people who died violently. We also continue to be confronted with the devastating impacts of Covid-19 on many Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities that are disproportionately suffering losses of loved ones. Many marginalized and vulnerable people are more likely to die from Covid-19 due to ongoing challenges with access to healthcare and treatment. It almost seems too much to bear and I know it can feel overwhelming as the images of trauma, death and violence appear everywhere. I believe we can find hope and solace together through collective organizing and mobilization. 

I have heard from Black professors, students and staff members that they are terrified and in grave pain over the incidents. The safety and well-being of every member of our community is essential and we take seriously the needs that have been expressed by so many. 

Our virtual multiracial healing circle last week had over 40 people collectively gathering with a trauma-informed African American therapist, and the healing circle for people of color two weeks prior was also a much needed space during our collective mourning. Next week, we will come together again for two virtual events:  

We Bear Witness is part of an ongoing series launched April 28 for BOOM!: Community Day and continued last week with a vigil and a message related to the Ahmaud Arbery case from President Sonya Stephens. We all have significant individual and collective work to do in our efforts to combat anti-Blackness and eradicate white supremacy. And, for Black people it can be especially difficult to feel any place is safe. Along with colleagues in Student Life and across campus, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is here to support you. Please contact us if you have any concerns. 

Below are a list of resources as you continue to seek opportunities for solace, healing, education and/or learning to be an ally to those who are suffering: 

In solidarity, 

Kijua

 

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