May 29, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today.
As we cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and what has been described repeatedly as an unprecedented situation, we are confronted with the latest in a long line of deeply troubling acts of racial violence for which, sadly, there is an overabundance of precedent.
The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer is emblematic of the institutional racism that is pervasive in our society. Mr. Floyd’s death, along with that of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of a father and son in Georgia, and the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, home, reveal a malignancy in our society that must be acknowledged and rooted out. How can it be in 21st century America that a black man cannot even engage in the act of birdwatching in Central Park without facing the threat that his mere presence would result in a call to police? It is chilling to think how close Christian Cooper could have come to joining the ranks of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and so many others before them.
This week’s events in Minneapolis remind us just how far our country is from achieving anything close to equity and justice for all. We live in a time when intolerance, bigotry and xenophobia have become mainstream, even at the highest levels of our government. That is why it is so important that we stand united and reject racism and bigotry in all its forms. Although we acknowledge that our community is far from perfect, we must always strive to be better, to foster a community that is grounded in the concept of dignity and respect for all.
Kumble R. Subbaswamy