Unity and Engagement against Racial Violence and Injustices
Institutional Equity (IE) and the Black Faculty Staff Council (BFSC) at Western Michigan University wish to acknowledge and express heartfelt concerns for the families and others who are impacted and mourn the losses of Black lives due to recent disgraceful and unjustifiable acts of hatred and violence.
Innocent Black people, more frequently Black males, continue to die from inexcusable acts of violence against them. This sends a message that Black bodies and lives are not valued. Institutions may report such behavior as hate crimes or biased incidents. Some people refer to these acts as modern-day lynching, stirring painful memories of the past that many are ashamed to admit. Institutional and structural racism and discrimination are plausible explanations for the repeated killings and deaths of harmless and unarmed Black people, at disproportionately higher rates than other groups, with unacceptable consequences to the communities impacted.
Parents, spouses and partners, siblings, children and other loved ones live with the burden of fear when Black males and other Black family members leave the house to enter a hostile society, wondering if they will return safely. Narratives from families who entrust us with their children and employees who make meaningful connections with these students include anxieties about their well-being as they pursue a quality education in an environment that often fears and fails to welcome their existence.
As a University, how do we feel about these realities? Do we have a pattern of excusing and defending behavior that is blatantly wrong? The long-term traumatic effects on the victims, the perpetrators, their families, our communities and society as a whole are important considerations for anchor institutions.
As we are collectively responding and actively engaged in support of the safety and well-being for our constituencies due to the impact of COVID-19 and new requirements under Title IX regulations, our contributions and efforts are also needed to create a safe learning and working environment that prohibits the harm against people based on race and other protected identities.
This is a call for honest reflection about our institutional values and systems. Western Michigan University has a critical role in confronting racism and the impact it has on our campus and broader community. We are positioned to provide a safe haven for all humanity to succeed and thrive and not condone, protect or lightly admonish people from the wrongdoings of racial violence and injustices. A University is a place where we can voice views on truths and realities of conditions around us, and take steps to raise standards and moral authority, conscience and responsibility for the value of all members of humanity regardless of identities and characteristics.
IE and BFSC will engage and stand together in unity against all forms of racial violence and injustices. As institutional leaders and members of Western Michigan University, where will you stand?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"