Adler University President Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., responds to the recent killing of George Floyd and underlying systemic racism, violence, and oppression in a message to Chicago and Online campus students, faculty, and staff.
The torture and killing of George Floyd, the blatant call by President Trump to shoot those protesting his death, and the ongoing outrage over the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor—all these events further unmask the systemic racism that continues to violently oppress Black people in America and which we have seen on increasing display over the last few weeks.
Last night, we witnessed acts of unrest and protest in both Minnesota and Kentucky. Protests will continue across the weekend, including here in Chicago. There are those who wish to downplay the institutionally sanctioned violence against Black people by condemning these acts of protest. We cannot fall victim to this false equivalency. As Dr. King noted in his speech, Other America, “Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.”
Over the last few weeks, many members of Adler’s Black community have shared their experiences with me. As I have listened, I have heard that Black people in America are exhausted, that even in the face of the pandemic the assault on their lives and their liberties is non-stop, that even their homes have become unsafe spaces. I cannot understand this lived experience, as a white man, but I can witness and honor the pain and anger felt by many Black people in America.
As a university community, we must commit to centering our conversation on the lived experience of the Black members of our community targeted by these egregious acts of racism, as well as the more mundane ways racism pervades our lives every day.
The University’s leadership team, led by Chief Diversity Officer Tamara A. Johnson, Ph.D., is exploring a number of actions, both internal and external, that we could enact as a community to respond to this moment.
In the meantime, I urge the white members of our community to take a hard look at the ways in which we each benefit from and uphold the systems of oppression from which this violence springs. White people must recommit to actively engage in anti-racism especially when it is uncomfortable to do so.
To the Black and Brown members of our community, please know that my door is open—to advice and criticism both. I promise the University will continue to engage on this issue, with your voices at every table, to dismantle structural racism both inside Adler University and around our world.