June 5, 2020
Like most of you, my heart is heavy following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the anguish afflicting our country, yet again. We are all experiencing immense grief and pain within our community and across the country as we simultaneously deal with the myriad effects of the coronavirus pandemic. While dialogue around systemic racism, social injustice, and the repeated threat to the safety and wellbeing of all remains absolutely necessary, what is lacking and long overdue is ongoing positive actions that result in real change.
As a Black woman who grew up in the rural South, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t pray for my seventeen-year-old son, as well as my almost-grown daughter. Will they come home tonight or will they have the unfortunate occasion of coming into contact with some form of authority who just can’t get past their Blackness? The adults I knew growing up had a personal commitment to eliminating systemic discrimination and racism. The heaviness of these past weeks has reinvigorated my commitment to doing the same.
But this I know: the status quo cannot continue; each of us must do our part to eliminate such injustice. I want to hear you, support you, and join with you to work together to acknowledge our shared grief, but also to identify specific actions that we can and will take to provide an inclusive environment where we all belong. My hope and desire is that our efforts will lead to concrete actions that will result in a better tomorrow and a stronger, more unified Trojan Family.
For those who need help or support now, we have resources in the Center for Work and Family Life (CWFL), Campus Wellbeing and Crisis Intervention (CWCI), and partnering with diversity officers and liaisons, who are also available to talk and listen.
Together, we can drive real change to eliminate racism and injustice in our community to create a culture that exemplifies our core values.
Felicia A. Washington
Senior Vice President of Human Resources