I write to you today with a profound sense of both anger and sadness.
George Floyd is another victim among countless others who have violently lost their lives or whose lives were threatened because of the color of their skin. This tragic and unnecessary event has once again shined a spotlight on racially motivated violence and systemic discrimination in our society. Around the country, including here in Colorado, people have gathered to protest the deaths, affirm Black lives, denounce systems that allow identity-based violence to persist, and demand change. The anguish and emotion visible in their faces is projected into every home on our televisions and news feeds.
Our University’s leadership stands in solidarity with those protesting systemic injustices, including police violence, and is committed to addressing systemic oppression, discrimination, and racism on our campus and in our society.
I have written you in the past to express and reaffirm the values of inclusion and respect that we nurture and fulfill in the UNC community. Now, more than ever, we must live these values fully and take a stand against acts of discrimination and racism. Far too many Bears live in fear of being a target of hate or violence because of their identities.
To echo the words of activist Angela Davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” I encourage each of you to join me in my commitment to not just speak out against hatred and bias, but to pursue and implement positive change. As a Community of Bears, we must continue to work together to confront and prevent acts of hate and bias and hold each other and our communities accountable.
I know from deep dialog with colleagues and peers of color that the persistent struggle, compounded by the weight of these recent events, has taxed many of them emotionally and physically—they are exhausted and hurt. They should not bear the burden of striving for justice alone. Now is the time for us all to pick up our paddles and row together toward a more just society that honors and cultivates the value of the lives of all people of color.
Rowing, Not Drifting,