George Floyd, Racial Injustice, and the World We Want to Build

President Bergman's message to students, faculty, and staff as protests continue in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Posted on May 29th, 2020 by

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: George Floyd, Racial Injustice, and the World We Want to Build
DATE: May 29, 2020

I will start by saying this, clearly and irrevocably: Gustavus Adolphus College upholds the values of equity and justice, abhors acts of racism and discrimination against individuals and groups on the basis of their skin color, and is committed to deepening its own anti-racist work.

Like many of you, I have closely followed the events in the Twin Cities after George Floyd died at the hands of police earlier this week. I offer my deepest condolences to the Floyd family and all who carry the weight of this loss. I am heartsick about how these events began and have continued to unfold. Last night, after a day of reading articles about both peaceful protests and escalating violence, I turned on the news and watched with our state and nation as the Twin Cities burned.

In the early morning hours—as I recalled the graphic scene of George Floyd begging for air and experienced the all-too-familiar rage at the sight of another black man crying for help while fellow officers and other bystanders looked on—I realized that I could not fully know the depth of the indignities that George Floyd and many other black Americans have suffered. Whatever I have seen and felt, my view of systemic inequity and racial injustice has been from a comfortable distance, for that is my privilege as a white person.

Many people have suffered and continue to suffer because of systems that foster racist mindsets, rhetoric, and actions. The weight of history presses us into predictable patterns that we must work daily to reform. We cannot afford to be inactive bystanders as we dare to imagine a more just and anti-racist future. We have the power, every day, to build a more equitable and inclusive world.

Today, I ask that we recommit ourselves to the College’s core value of justice. Let us recognize, name, and work to dismantle deeply embedded and unjust social structures that perpetuate suffering for people of color. Let us celebrate diversity. Let us champion equity. Let us embrace inclusion.

May this week’s events motivate us to take peaceful action for justice. Write. Rally. Love. However steep the slope, however rocky the path, however winding the road, may we walk it together.

As we seek healing in this painful time, this is my prayer.

Yours in community,

President Bergman

 

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