Hello Ram Family,
I hope this finds you and yours doing the best you possibly can, but above all, safe at this time. As many are aware, we all continue to witness tragic acts of violence take the lives of our brothers and sisters across communities of this nation amid a pandemic that indiscriminately does the same in every corner of our hometowns and across the globe. I imagine that you, like myself, my wife, and my three young kids, feel a heartbreaking pain deep in your gut that is both infuriating and sobering all at once as you watch the line charts rise accounting for COVID-19 deaths only to be interposed by videos of the bodies of black men and women that fall limp to unnecessary gun shots and determined knees pressed against their neck.
While one could easily choose to not watch what seems only to be happening on the television and seemingly not, in the same ways, outside my front door in Fort Collins, Colorado, my family cannot. To not watch is not a real option. My grip is growing tired. My grip around my wife and kids gets tighter and tighter because what we see is not a new normal for any of us. It is the evolution of a reality that has always been but is now being filmed. It is an evolution of hate and bias that is likely to greet my 9-year-old son, Tripp, my 5-year-old daughter, Caydence, and 2-year-old son, Austin, someday, in some capacity. They are unfortunately certain to come face to face with the evolutions of this reality in some form – an interaction with a peer or teacher in a classroom, a friend turned adversary, a joke amongst friends, jogging in a neighborhood while training to go back to school, thought to be suspicious for sitting in an restaurant, pulled over by law enforcement for driving a little too fast, for loving who they love, for showing their hands and complying, for taking a stand against injustice, or simply taking a knee instead.
And all that we can pray for is that when we face this reality at the most unexpected of times, we can come home to grip one another just a little tighter that night.
I do not want to assume that you and yours have witnessed the disturbing news coverage of events over the past few months and days that have struck a chord with many across racial and socioeconomic lines. For this reason, I feel compelled to share these thoughts with you all. Within the last 48 hours, I have received numerous calls of concern, worry, expressions of disheartened feelings, questions of why and how. Most consistently, I have been asked by many of you, “What do I say? What do I do?” I do not, by any means, want to suggest that I know what the right thing is to say to comfort your unsettled questions. I guess my best answer each time we see that we are not living up to what our nation proclaims to be and values most is that you should be disturbed.
This is not and will never be a worthwhile discussion if framed as Us versus Them. I hope that you will refrain from this unproductive form of analysis as tempting as it may be. By doing so doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about responsibilities, rights, accountability, morals, ethics, and our reactions to injustices. It is simply a plea to grapple with the complexity of our existences instead of seeking paths of least resistance by way of pruning our way of thinking to easily find fault in others.
The Vice President for Diversity’s (VPD) office recently released A Note of Solidarity that I think is important for us all to read and process. You can read it separately here. I am certain that it may invoke a multitude of thoughts and opinions, for which not all will find absolute agreement with another. But most importantly, I hope that it helps us to become disturbed enough to have critical dialogue with empathy for our brothers and sisters inside and outside our front doors, for those on the other side of the television, and particularly for those continuously rendered dispensable and disposable. I hope you find yourself disturbed by the complexity of the situations that have occurred. As you do, I just want to say thank you for paying attention! All of our lives should matter enough for us to be disturbed to speak and act in ways that all lives matter.
After reading the note sent by our VPD, I would encourage you to call your peers, teammates, friends and have a conversation. Call your coaches and let them know that you have been watching, listening, and thinking about them, your team, and what role your team has in these most painful of times. Let folks know that you are disturbed. And listen to why they too may be disturbed. Let us listen to one another about why black lives matter so that all lives matter. By listening, your grip may grow tired, but our love and empathy for one another will grow stronger.
I am reminded of the words of James Baldwin who once said, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” I pray that you may come to realize this in all its truth with every twist and turn of our American history that is being formed in the present. While the changes that you desire most do not fall solely on you or the shoulders of your generation, it is undoubtedly apparent that you have been called to participate in our collective change. Dialogue alone will not be enough. And it is equally true that nothing can change without dialogue. How we hold both of these truths will determine not only what tools for change my generation is able to leave to you, but will determine what you and your generation are able to do and undo with the tools you are able to leave for those that come behind you.
With love for you all,
Dr. Albert Bimper Jr. (’06) is Assistant Vice President, Senior Associate Athletics Director, Program Director for Sport Management, and associate professor at CSU in Fort Collins