Friday, October 2, 2020

Do Something: Condemn White Supremacism

 

On Wednesday, Susquehanna University celebrated Green Dot Day. The violence prevention program is core to our bystander intervention efforts. It empowers bystanders to be reactive and, ideally, proactive advocates when they witness bullying, sexual assault, or other forms of abuse. It is on all of us to build a community that is free of violence and built on respect. That approach is a model for how each of us can be better friends, better neighbors, and better citizens.

 

When we see something, we must say something.

 

When we see something, we must do something…to make things better. 

 

This summer, we made a campus-wide commitment to embark on 37 actionable recommendations for our university community to become more inclusive. We have recognized it is not enough to not be racist; we must learn to be anti-racist. Like the Good Samaritan, we have a moral obligation to proactively do the right thing.

 

We must do something. 

 

In “saying something” of our commitment, we placed a “Black Lives Matter: Racism Ends Here” banner on the exterior of our campus center and distributed smaller replica decals to our community members. We received many requests, mostly from off campus, to remove the banner and many, many more messages supporting it. Our Black neighbors have experienced a jeremiad of indignities over generations, and sadly they continue. We need to be even more proactive advocates.

 

We must do something. 

 

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education announced that it will investigate Princeton University, because its president, Christopher Eisgruber, courageously acknowledged that  racism has been embedded throughout his university’s history. I joined 80+ presidents of colleges, universities, and learned societies as a signatory on a letter condemning an unconscionable investigation into an institution striving to right the wrongs of its past.

 

We must do something. 

 

Our nation’s history and the histories of its institutions — schools, museums, religious organizations, and governments — have been shaped profoundly by systemic inequality, tragic prejudice, and hoarded privilege. The social turbulence in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and so many other Black lives has prompted a national awakening.

 

A recent Pew Research Center poll indicates that a majority of Americans (55%) continue to support Black Lives Matter demonstrations. A Gallup poll has shown that the majority of Americans (58%) support policing reforms. The Monmouth University Polling Institute stated that a majority of Americans (76%) say that racial discrimination is a “big problem.”  

 

We see a wave of national support to bring an end to systemic racism. A greater and greater majority of Americans are expressing a desire for the full promise of the Declaration of Independence to become the lived experience for all of us. To do this, it is not enough not to be racist, it requires us to be anti-racist. The status quo can only be changed proactively.

 

We must do something. 

 

When confronted with the pernicious specter of white supremacism, we must immediately condemn it. We cannot be silent bystanders. We must confront it as the evil it is. This is what it means to be anti-racist, to be proactive advocates for what is right. This is what it means to be an active member of a democratic community.

 

Do something: Embrace anti-racism.

Do something: Condemn white supremacism.

Do something good!

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