Dear Garland School Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni,
I have watched the events of the past few weeks with a broken and contrite heart, specifically the violence perpetrated against Black people in our nation. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Dion Johnson, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and George Floyd remind us of individual as well as institutional racism and the lasting effects of white supremacy. They remind us that when we fail to confront racism in its many forms and remain complicit in the white supremacy that surrounds us, then black lives do not matter. The rallies and protests are the cries of a Black community in anguish and grief, longing to be heard, questioning our commitments, and fighting for change.
This loss of Black life and all threats against Black bodies are reasons why the staff and faculty of the Garland School strive to stand in solidarity with Black individuals who continually face violence and discrimination in far too many settings. Our commitment in the Garland School is to live out our professional and spiritual values to prevent these things. We desire to support the full diversity of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. While we work to show that each life matters, we want to be clear in demonstrating that Black lives matter in light of the disproportionate injustice, trauma, punishment, and death they experience. We acknowledge our failures and choose to speak out against racism and white supremacy in all of its forms.
To the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of color in our community, your white colleagues and I strive to see your pain. I cannot say with confidence that we do see your pain because I am not sure that those of us who are not Black, Indigenous, or People of Color always do. Our whiteness prevents us, and we don’t even realize it. Because we fail to see the power and privilege of our whiteness, we cannot see the depth of your anguish and anger. The truth-seeking co-founder of the NAACP, Ida B. Wells, said, “the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” This quote was shared in a small group discussion that several GSSW faculty and staff are participating in related to the podcast series, "Seeing White". We want to see and hear from you so that we might be better able to shine the light of justice together.
Together with you, we want to turn the light of truth and justice in every corner where the darkness of racism lingers and where we are complicit in its effects. We have sought to be about the work of anti-racism for many years, and this work will take an even greater commitment if we want to see justice prevail. May God give us the strength for this journey together.
Jon Singletary, PhD