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I will no longer be silent

Across our nation, we are witnessing the real-time expression of years and years of collective pain and oppression. The addition of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor to an already unbearable score of those who have been killed because of the color of their skin has brought us to a boiling point of outrage and disgust over systemic racial injustice and inequality in this country.  

I stand united against every form of racism and discrimination and proclaim that I will no longer be silent on the murder of Black/African Americans.  I believe that we can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person as they give this country their love, labor and life.  Don’t let today’s injustice stop us from creating a better tomorrow for our nation…our world.

Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another and recognize the fear, hurt and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism directed toward the Black/African American community.  That painful past is present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination.  Black/African Americans have been suffering under the oppressive weight of racism in America for far too long. I cannot acknowledge the contributions of the Black/African American community and remain silent while they are in pain.  I stand for the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The murder of George Floyd by police is an unspeakable tragedy. Sadly, police brutality against the Black/African American community has been an ever-present occurrence since its origin to preserve the system of slavery.  I vehemently condemn the actions that led to the death of George Floyd and all the racially charged violent acts that have taken the lives of countless other Black/African Americans before and after him.

I strive to empower people to change their world for the better. As a race, the human race, we draw strength from our diversity, welcome people from every walk of life and make every effort to build opportunities that is inclusive of everyone.  I have heard from so many accounts of fear — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruel of all, afraid in your own skin.

We must do more…together!  To create change, I continue to reexamine my own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored.  I will not stand by and watch the very core of human dignity be attacked in such a savage and violent way. 

To everyone in the Black/African American community I say, "I see you. You matter. Your lives matter.  You are valued."

Change is not asked for in these times, change is demanded!  Change that does not happen just by seeing and attempting to understand the wrong that is occurring, but by listening and learning from our fellow community members and individuals who are collectively standing up across the world and speaking out.  With every breath I take, I will commit to be that change, and to create a better more just world for everyone.

For all my colleagues hurting right now, please know that you are not alone. It’s more important now more than ever to talk to one another and to find healing in our common humanity.  I intend to focus my efforts and resources to compassionately and constructively talk about these matters openly and honestly as I seek solutions toward positive change.  I recognize that complex trauma, the feelings that can develop in response to prolonged, repeated experiences of interpersonal trauma where individuals have little or no chance of escape and how it disproportionately affects you and your work.  I pledge that I will try my best to show compassion for you as you do the work that is so needed.

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to “normal,” or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avoid looking upon the injustices that are currently occurring. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

President Obama recently wrote, “It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us,…But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in the park…This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,'” he continued, adding, “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must do better.”

I support Black/African American lives today and every day. You are seen. You are heard. And I am here for and with you.

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