A Message to Faculty and Staff Colleagues
I reach out to you to recognize with you the pain, grief, and violence of racial injustice that has gripped our nation over the past several days — and for much too long before that. The names and lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many Black Americans who have suffered violent deaths at the hands of systemic and institutionalized racism are being spoken in the streets and airwaves of our communities pushing for change.
Many Grinnellians are in those streets, others are organizing and creating or sustaining ways to be in solidarity with the many movements for racial equality that are active now around the world. Many are also hurting and angry, and our current isolation from each other aggravates that anguish. Thank you for reaching out to each other and to our students and alumni, for connecting and organizing, and for living out the College’s mission of social responsibility.
Following President Kington’s message to our community, I write with the resolve that together we must acknowledge and address the compounded injustices of a pandemic in a racist society, as COVID-19 disproportionally impacts communities of color. Our knowledge and experience, our mission, and our on-going research and questioning assert that racism is a public health emergency, that trauma is generational, that white supremacy is a system, and that none of us can be passive about what is happening right now. I do so within my own limitations and determination, and I reach out to all of you in admiration for your own commitment, critique, and care.
As Grinnellians, we all are called to work for the common good. We may question what we can do in the face of the injustices that we are witnessing or experiencing. We can also bring the steadfastness of care for our students and each other, the efforts of anti-racist pedagogy and practice, and the skills of critique to the work that must continue to be done. We can do these things as individuals and as members of this community.
As we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, we can, as President Kington has called on us to do, honor the lives lost by drawing the connections between education and activism, between our efforts and social change.
With care and resolve,
Anne F. Harris
Dean of the College
Vice President for Academic Affairs