Editor’s note: This message was posted on the webpage of the Colorado State University Office of the Vice President for Diversity May 29.
As we try to find words to begin this note, the weight of what needs to be acknowledged feels heavy. During this pandemic, the pain and unprocessed grief we are collectively facing are tremendously difficult to hold. While stories of communities coming together to support one another in the midst of COVID-19 are heartwarming and serve as much-needed reminders of the good in humanity, the fact remains there are people and systems among us that perpetuate violence and injustice.
The presence of a global pandemic has not mitigated the racism and inequities in our society; if anything, it reveals them and threatens to deepen them. Racism continues to show up in hateful and baseless rhetoric tying the pandemic to Asian and Asian American communities, resulting in countless acts of bias, microaggressions, and outright acts of hate. Systemic injustices have led to higher COVID-19 mortality rates among Black and African American, Latinx and Hispanic, and Native American and Indigenous communities, with the Navajo Nation being one of the most severely impacted region, per capita. And as our country looks to reopen and rebuild, our institutions that have long been characterized by inequities, such as education, will still be affected by the inequitable allocation of critical recovery funds.
In just these past few months, we have also seen horrific examples of racism and anti-Blackness that are continuations of our country’s history of enslavement and racialized state violence. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and Ahmaud Arbery. The killing of Nina Pop, the fifth known violent death of a trans woman of color within a single month. The accosting of Christian Cooper in Central Park. While each person’s life and story are distinct, they are connected by overarching themes of anti-Blackness, police brutality, and intersections of gender within a society that devalues the lives and humanity of Black people. In a society such as this, living while Black continues to make one a target of bias and life-threatening violence.
We share this to acknowledge the pain our Black and African American colleagues, students, and community members are experiencing and to share the weight of that pain, in whatever ways we can. When we say CSU is a place where all are welcomed, valued, and affirmed, that comes with a responsibility to be allies, advocates, and accomplices. To see these events and face them. To name them. To choose to not turn away or ignore the painful parts of our reality.
To our Black and African American community members: we see you and we are here for you. While these words could never be enough to alleviate all of the hurt you may be experiencing, it is still important to acknowledge that many people are hurting. We, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, promise to continue doing all we can to challenge and change systems of inequity that perpetuate anti-Blackness, racism, and bias within our university. We will continue to center equity and our most marginalized communities in our trainings and resources. We will listen, and we will learn how we can improve. We are committed to centering and addressing anti-Blackness in our work. We will advocate and emphasize accountability for our university community. And we will continue to work with our partners in Fort Collins to see these efforts expand across the greater community that we live and work in.
Our hearts are with you. Our words and actions are with you.
– the staff of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity