Making a Better World, Together
Dear DU Community,
Both in my role as your vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, and more importantly as a Black man with a voice, I want to take a moment to share some of my thoughts and feelings as we all take in what the guilty verdicts in the Chauvin trial mean. I would also like to direct you to the programming at the bottom of this message where you can join in community discussion.
At DU, we are a thriving part of global society, and we should embrace our role in pushing for progress in our world as well as right here at home at our university. The fight for recognition and celebration of the full and undeniable humanity of Black people in the United States continues, and we cannot lose sight of that continued struggle against oppression.
While these guilty verdicts are a step forward, we cannot forget the far too numerous times that there has been no accountability for those who have taken away Black lives. We must recognize the fact that in the recent days and weeks the lives of Black and Brown people have been taken by agents of the state across the country—with some of those victims being children. Far too many more people than George Floyd have been wrongfully taken from their families and from us as a society.
Seeing one singular moment where a perpetrator is held accountable to a heinous act that we all saw clearly on video cannot wash away the well-earned skepticism of the system that has failed so many too often. Systemic racism is real, and it exists far beyond policing. Unfortunately, it is woven into the fabric of our society, and it will continue to take broad collaborative efforts to eradicate it.
Our work at DU in diversity, equity, and inclusion is part of the more expansive efforts across our nation where individuals need to work for change within their spheres of influence. The time for action continues to be now. Looking inward at DU and looking out on all that DU influences, we have a prime opportunity to continue making progress right here that will help our nation grow and heal. If we remain diligent in growing and making commitments to stand against systemic racism at home and beyond, we may be able to reckon with our sordid past and keep it from unduly permeating our present and future.
In these first few weeks at DU, I have been warmly welcomed, and I feel encouraged that we have what it takes to continue working together to grow, to do more and to do better as we face our future. Across our nation, for too long too many have done too little to stop the perpetuation of systemic racism. Anti-Blackness cannot be allowed to continue flourishing as it has for far too many generations. The fact that there are still arguments over such a basic recognition that Black lives do matter shows us the level of insidiousness of anti-Black racism. Mattering is minimal, yet people want to argue against such a simple sentiment.
Conversations about Black trauma are not new. As their parents before them, my parents had to have “the talk” with me as a Black child growing up in this country. My hope is that things will be different for my young sons when they become Black fathers in the future. We can make that renewed hope a reality by doing everything in our power to make a better world by developing in one another the skills and desires to dismantle beliefs in hierarchies of human worth and value.
Outcomes change when systems change. The witnesses, the activists, the Attorney General in Minnesota and so many other inputs into the system look different and more inclusive of more voices in this Chauvin trial than in the multitude of cases across the history of the United States where justice was not served for Black victims. The tireless work and deep sacrifices made by so many Black people, as well as individuals working alongside them, has not simply provided progress toward equity and justice for Black people but has steadily made a better world for all. That must never be overlooked.
Christopher M. Whitt
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Join the Conversation
For the most up-to-date information about student events and supports, including virtual programming later today, please visit The Cultural Center and also follow the Center’s social media channels.
Open Forum Hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Thursday, April 22, 2021 | Noon
Join faculty and staff working in diversity, equity and inclusion in conversation about the verdicts. For faculty, staff and students.
Zoom link and passcode: 429383
- Apryl Alexander, professor, Graduate School of Professional Psychology
- Nashwa Bolling and Effley Brooks, co-leads, Black@DU
- Alexi Freeman, professor and associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion, Sturm College of Law
- Michele Hanna, associate dean for academic affairs, Graduate School of Social Work
- Andriette Jordan-Fields, Black community experience coordinator
- Christopher Whitt, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion