On behalf of the Executive Board, I am sharing the following message:
DEDCMDASFAA believes Black lives matter.
We also condemn racism and its byproducts which include acts of hatred, violence, and discrimination.
Racism is a systemic issue that exists in our communities and on our campuses. And it impacts every one of us. We are committed to diversity and inclusion and will work to provide our members with meaningful resources and opportunities to learn about racism and methods to combat its negative influence on our roles as members of the higher education and financial aid community."
Speaking on behalf of myself:
I want to apologize for taking so long to send this message. I must admit that as a Black woman, the task of writing about racism was difficult. I wanted to get this right. I wanted to write to you about unity, uplift, and encouragement. But it is hard to tell others that “everything will be okay” when you are questioning whether you yourself are okay. And for the record, I am not okay.
When I say I'm not okay, I don’t mean to scare you. I am working from home, handling business, spending time with my family, keeping up with volunteer commitments and daily rituals. But at night, I am wide awake and uneasy. My mind wanders and I avoid watching the news because it tends to make things worse.
I am not okay with what happened to Ahmaud Arbery,
I am not okay with what happened to George Floyd and many others, and
I am not okay with how some people and organizations have chosen to respond or not respond to it.
Here is my response.
On May 25, a man by the name of George Floyd had his life taken unnecessarily, publicly, and at the hands of someone who appeared indifferent to his suffering.
It is not the first time this has happened. I'm sad and infuriated to know it won't be the last. But George Floyd’s death has brought racism to the forefront of a national conversation more prominently than I have ever seen. Protests have been held in every state and the aftermath is unfolding before the eyes of the world.
I find myself wondering: How do you really feel? What are you going to do about it?
How do I feel?
Sad. Horrified. Outraged. Disgusted. Fearful about the future. Disappointed.
Fear sets in particularly where my father, my husband and my son are concerned. I didn't know George Floyd, but I do know that Black men are more likely than others to experience the same fate. I sometimes find myself on edge for Black men, especially the ones closest to me.
As for disappointment, I am disappointed in myself for having fallen into the pattern of accepting that being treated differently because of the color of your skin is just a part of life—at least life as I know it. I have accepted it as reality, but acceptance will never make it right. It is absolutely wrong, and it needs to stop.
So, what are we going to do about it?
It is hard to know what to do at a time like this. I am suggesting we begin with learning, specifically to increase our understanding of racism.
Like any other issue, this one will require us to acknowledge it before we can change it. The association will create a new web page dedicated to sharing resources and opportunities to learn about racism and actions we can take to eradicate it.
Having spoken with many of you, I am sharing some recommendations about common areas where help may be needed:
If you need clarity about the statement "Black Lives Matter", see the image at the end of this message. Making the statement does not equal an endorsement of any organization or movement, even one that bears the same name.
If you are having trouble processing your feelings, talk to someone you trust. Do not be ashamed to seek the help of a mental health care professional.
If you are planning to participate in a rally or protest, please be safe and follow physical distancing guidelines.
If you want to have a conversation with your staff or campus leadership about racism, find a knowledgeable third party to facilitate it. The conversation may become uncomfortable and should not be led by an employee within your office.
If you feel that your organization is simply "checking the box" where diversity and inclusion are concerned, be sure to learn more about their efforts before drawing any conclusions. Look for opportunities to join the efforts. Your voice may be what's missing and necessary to affect the change you desire to see.
Whatever you choose to do, please take care of yourself.
As for me, I want to help create a more just, equitable and loving world. It is a lofty goal but it is my truth. I am sharing it with you so that those around me can offer encouragement, participate with me, and/or hold me accountable. My words and actions need to align with the goals I have set for myself.
In closing, I appreciate every one of you and your contributions to Tri-State. It has been a pleasure to serve as Chair. This year has been one for the history books, but we made it through.
I am looking forward to my new role as Past Chair. I will continue to learn with you and from you for the betterment of myself, our association, and every stakeholder we engage with.