Dear Millikin Colleagues:
In May, on my former campus, I sent a campus wide message concerning the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. Perhaps like many of you, I watched in horror as news outlets replayed the video showing his brutal murder and felt a need to convey my depth of sorrow for his death and the way in which he died. Today, I write to you concerning the shooting of Jacob Blake. It is incomprehensible to me the level of callousness, hatred, and institutionalized racism that has led us to this place, not only to Mr. Blake’s shooting, but the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery as well as many others in our recent past.
As a white, cis-gendered, straight man, I know that I am given a level of privilege in my life that ultimately shields me from the discrimination and fear that many of my African-American, Latinx, Native American, APIDA and LGBTQIA friends and colleagues have to deal with each time they leave their houses. I can never adequately understand the level of trauma many of them feel on a daily basis and the triggering they must feel when images like the video of Mr. Blake’s shooting are shown. I do not have the same shared experiences that they do. But I want all of them to know that I see them, I hear them, and I will work for and with them to find an inclusive way forward through this difficult time. We stand at a crossroad in America today. One road leads to a place where most of us do not wish to go; where fear, intimidation, racism, sexism, discrimination, misogyny and hate demand hateful action towards those that are not like us. The opposite road leads us to a place of reconciliation and understanding; a place where we work together to find solutions to larger societal problems.
The choice for Millikin University is clear – we choose to be allies in the fight against hate and racism in all of its forms. We stand in solidarity with those who are peacefully protesting, asking only for the chance to be heard. We stand with those who have been hurt by the hatred we see in America today and look for ways to help them to heal their pain. We stand with all of those seeking justice, all who value diversity and inclusion, all those who have been cast aside by society because their skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic origins, religious practices, and economic security is not what may be considered by some to be normative.
Millikin reaffirms its values today. Diversity, inclusion, dignity and respect for all people aren’t just words on a piece of paper. They are the DNA of our University. We stand in solidarity with all those who are oppressed and suffer injustice. We support the rights of oppressed people to peacefully protest and ask for justice. And we condemn in the strongest and most vigorous terms any acts of violence against people who only wish to live lives that are safe and free from discrimination.
With great respect for you all,