On the death of George Floyd

Disgusting. Infuriating. Tragic. Heartbreaking.

Those are words that came quickly to mind when I first learned of the outrageous and senseless death of George Floyd. To then watch a slow-motion killing is one of the most horrifying sights imaginable. And to see the cruel casualness by which it all happened, by which a man had his life taken away, was an assault to the senses.

Mr. Floyd was an African American man. It is difficult to fully understand what happened on Chicago Avenue without centering the basic fact that race ran through the entire sordid event.

I know that many staff, students, and faculty in our CLA community are hurting right now and grieving. For our African American colleagues and students, this event is one more distressing reminder of the danger and fear they, their family members, and their children must navigate.

CLA is the campus home for research, teaching, and community engagement in the study of race, indigeneity, gender, and sexuality. Our departments of African American and African Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano and Latino Studies, American Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and the Asian American Studies program are among the first and most prominent in their respective fields. And our departments across the arts, humanities, and social science address their research, creative work, and instruction to issues of race, justice, dignity, and respect.

For fifty years, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Program has served diverse students and students interested in diversity, equity, and inclusion. More recently, the Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (RIGS) Initiative has brought together scholars and students from across and beyond campus, and the Indigenous Staff and Staff of Color Community has provided a convening space for staff for professional development, social connection, and sharing concerns and strategies with college leadership.

We in CLA will continue to provide the leadership in this work that is so critically needed in our community and our society today.

I strongly endorse the measures announced by President Gabel this evening. It is right for the University to take a strong and principled stance with concrete actions, particularly in a situation like this one where trust and confidence has been shaken.

I join President Gabel in calling for justice and accountability for the death of George Floyd, and I join those in our CLA community who are both outraged and deeply saddened by the inhumanity of what we have witnessed.

To those who are hurting, we extend our compassion, our understanding, and our friendship. I want you to know we stand with you.


This message was sent to CLA faculty and staff on May 27, 2020 and CLA undergraduate and graduate students on May 28, 2020.
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