Steps Toward Greater Justice and Healing
June 3, 2020
Dear Students and Colleagues,
We in the Drexel community are disheartened, disturbed and enraged by the pervasiveness of racism and violence against African Americans — most recently, George Floyd’s senseless death in Minneapolis police custody, which prompted the demonstrations in Philadelphia and every other major city.
The tragedy of George Floyd’s death, and the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, are just the latest examples of our nation’s abject failure to address the root causes of inequality. At a time when the African American community is bearing a disproportionately heavy burden from the COVID-19 pandemic, this unrelenting racial violence against the black community exacts a tremendous physical and emotional toll.
We are living in what the American Psychological Association has described as a “racism pandemic” that exacts a heavy emotional toll. We understand that black individuals carry an additional burden of fear and anxiety, simply by nature of the color of their skin. As the APA states, “If you’re black in America — and especially if you are a black male – it’s not safe to go birding in Central Park, to meet friends at a Philadelphia Starbucks, to pick up trash in front of your own home in Colorado or to go shopping almost anywhere.”
We are painfully aware that our campus community is suffering, and that anger and fear are dominating the lives of many of our students, faculty, professional staff and alumni. Many students in Philadelphia are on the front lines of peaceful protest in this city, and students who are home in other parts of the country are doing the same. They are rightly shocked when they are met with resistance. We are proud of their activism and courage, and we support their actions.
At times like this, it is imperative that we harness the values of our campus community to insist on change wherever we are, change in our country and change on our campus. As a university community, we can strive for an extra measure of compassion and understanding as we move forward to action. We can take the time to listen to one another, to have hard conversations about racism, to confront uncomfortable truths about ideologies of white supremacy, and to use what we learn to create an anti-racist campus free from intolerance and hatred. These dialogues are a first step to create a more equitable community as an ongoing aspiration for our University.
On Friday, June 5, at 12:30 p.m., we are opening up a space for dialogue about racism and the difficult path forward to become active allies in the fight against racism. We hope you will join this dialogue and let us know your plan to attend this inaugural virtual conversation by responding at this online link.
We call on all members of the Drexel community to insist on a more just and equitable future, and to speak out in peaceful but defiant resistance to the racial injustice endured by the African American community. We stand with the Drexel community — our students, faculty, professional staff, trustees and alumni – in calling for an end to the racism and discrimination in our country.
We hope you will join this dialogue on Friday and for future conversations, and we urge you to stay safe.
Subir Sahu, PhD
Senior Vice President for Student Success
Kimberly J. Gholston
Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer