Dear CLASS Faculty, Staff, and Students:
The events of the past several months have moved me more profoundly and deeply than I can express. Like many of you, I am angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the unrelenting rapidity and seemingly endless displays of White supremacy and violence being perpetrated against people of color, most recently African Americans. Here are but a few recent examples:
- In February in Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by three White men while he was jogging.
- In March in Kentucky, Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician, was killed by police who used a battering ram to crash into her apartment and shot her eight times.
- Last week in New York, Christian Cooper, a Harvard graduate and biomedical editor for Health Science Communications, was accosted by a White woman dog-walker in Central Park who invoked his race in a 911 call to falsely accuse him of threatening her life.
- Last week in Minneapolis, George Floyd, an unarmed black man experiencing medical distress, was handcuffed and then murdered by a white police officer who taunted him while kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes until he died.
- Last week in Minneapolis, Omar Jimenez, an Afro-Latino CNN correspondent, was arrested while doing his job on live TV, while White CNN reporters standing nearby were treated with consummate politeness by police.
As a university administrator, U.S. citizen, and African American woman, I am weary of these events, and I share the emotions that are fueling protests and public displays of pain and mourning. Therefore, I commit to engage in activities that I believe will help produce the change we desire in our country, our communities, and on our campus, and I implore you to do the same. Here are questions I recommend you ask yourself:
- In light of what has happened, what actions will I take so that I am part of the solution and not just a bystander?
- What will I do to help UNT improve in the areas of diversity and inclusion?
- How will I contribute to advancing knowledge - my own and others' - about the impact of discrimination in our world?
- How will I support our students who are members of targeted groups to soar in their academic journey?
There is much work to be done and it will not be accomplished if all we do is lament current events while remaining silent and inactive in the ways that matter. I am unwavering in my commitment to social justice, diversity, and inclusion, and I hope you will be also.
But let's not just talk about it -- let's be about it!
Tamara L. Brown, Ph.D.
Professor and Executive Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
University of North Texas