Adler University President Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., addresses this week’s events, including the lack of justice for the shooting of Jacob Blake, unprecedented community mobilization and voter registration in Georgia, and the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol building, in a message to students, faculty, and staff.
I am writing to you as events unfold at the start of our term that are shaping history and our nation – all in the context of a continuing pandemic. I know many of you are learning, teaching, and working today carrying feelings of sadness, anger, and concern.
On Tuesday, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, no officers were charged for shooting of Jacob Blake, who was gravely wounded and is now paralyzed. This seems to have escaped greater attention because of other events of the week and because such sanctioned shootings, and often killings, are woefully commonplace. The shooting of Blake by police contributes to the ongoing lynching of Black people in the United States. We, as a learning community of healers, must work to actively change this violence and oppression that results in intergenerational trauma and loss.
Later that day, the state of Georgia – after a ten year effort led largely by Black women – saw unprecedented community mobilization and voter registration. For too long, voter suppression has silenced the voices of those who are most systematically marginalized in the United States: Black and brown people, young people, poor people. No matter your politics, greater inclusion and voter participation is a victory for democracy. We have Black women to thank for this effort in Georgia that will impact the nation and, indeed, the entire world.
Yesterday, acts of violence and terrorism were fomented by the current president of the United States. Ugly conclusions are clear in comparisons between how the U.S. Capitol prepared for and responded to June’s peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and how the U.S. Capitol prepared for and responded to yesterday’s riot of angry, violent, mostly white people. That yesterday’s terrorists were unafraid and largely unarrested amplifies the reality of how deeply racism and white supremacy are ingrained in our nation’s DNA. Even as the U.S. Congress resumed efforts to confirm electoral votes the same evening that insurgents stormed the Capitol building – ushering in hope for a new political era – deep divisions and pain remain in our country.
As Adlerians, our responsibility is to ensure our learning and teaching meets this moment of division and injury – inside and outside of our university. We do this by engaging in courageous dialogue and actions that support relational transformation. This starts with our personal journeys, by challenging ourselves and each other, and by producing work that supports approaches, leadership, and facts that address rather than recreate historical trauma. Our upcoming curriculum transformation will more deeply address the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We will continue to advance and enforce the policies, practices, and structural changes demanded by our Black community and supported by our administration and Board of Trustees. Our charge is to be architects of communities that are supported by the Adlerian belief that people thrive only in healthy communities – including our university community. Let us come together to understand and celebrate the power of and need for communities in which all voices are raised and heard.
Tonight and in the coming days, as you have over the past 10 months, please take care of each other and yourselves. In the next few days – take time to reflect on these events, listen to someone else’s experience, be generous with one another, extend a deadline, shorten a meeting. Across the coming year, there’s much work ahead for us, individually and together.