Last week’s murder of an unarmed Black man was shocking, horrifying, and infuriatingly familiar. George Floyd and his family have now joined a grievously long list of Black and Brown Americans who have had their lives and their liberties taken away by individuals and systems that perpetuate injustice and inequality. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. Freddie Gray. Terence Crutcher. Alton Sterling. Walter Scott. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. The list of names seems endless and the pain behind each one is overwhelming.
So many in our community are hurting. We’ve witnessed a modern-day lynching and it has brought fresh trauma to those who have suffered personal and generational wounds of injustice, racism, and oppression. These are not isolated incidents but part of a larger culture which privileges some and oppresses others in ways that manifest in everything from the disproportional rates of COVID-19 deaths in Black and Brown communities to the flagrant abuse of privilege by a white dog walker calling the police and falsely claiming that her life was threatened by a Black birdwatcher who had simply asked her to follow the posted leash laws.
Our college is committed to the preparation of transformative educators, counselors, therapists, school and community leaders. In the face of such glaring and graphic evidence of the deep roots of racism and the brokenness of our society, this work has taken on even greater importance and added urgency.
Our society needs transformative leaders in education-related fields now more than ever. We need teachers who recognize the racist and hegemonic roots of our society and seek to understand how that reality impacts the lived experiences of our students. We need counselors and therapists who believe that an integral part of being an advocate for the children and clients in our care is the willingness to call out discriminatory structures and systems that continue to breed inequity. We educators who are willing to interrogate our own assumptions and engage in hard conversations about privilege, marginalization, bias, and inequity. We need leaders who consistently and repeatedly stand with marginalized communities and vulnerable individuals and take bold action to make transformative change happen.
In the midst of heartache and outrage, I take solace in the knowledge that Lurie College is a community that is deeply committed to equity, inclusion, and racial and social justice. I see strength in the dedication of our faculty, staff, and community partners. I see hope in the passion and tenacity of our students and alumni. Together, we will continue to work toward the promise of transformative change and the realization of a more just and equitable society.