August 4, 2020

In Memory of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd:

A Statement from the Racialized Faculty Caucus at SUNY Empire State College
 
As a close-knit community of academics, teachers and higher education professionals of color at SUNY Empire State College, we are deeply saddened, outraged, shocked and offended by the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
 
We bear witness to these events as part of a relentless pattern of racially motivated violence against African American/Black and other racialized people that has persisted in the United States of America for centuries. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
 
As we follow successive news reports about the brutal killings of African American/Black men and women, we can only imagine the incomprehensible pain of the many people who claim Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd as a close relative or a friend. In the midst of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of grossly disproportionate numbers of African American/Black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American/Indigenous people in the United States of America, we think of the family and friends of the dedicated healthcare professional Breonna Taylor. We imagine their pain as they are inundated with stunningly insensitive and dehumanizing political commentary in print and on television that attempts to justify the police killing of an African American/Black woman who should have been safe and secure in her home. As beholders of this latest chapter of inter-generational trauma experienced by communities of color, we implore our students, colleagues, families, and friends to focus on their individual and collective health and well-being as we struggle for equity, inclusion and racial justice in our different ways. During this extremely challenging time, a terrible time, we must remember to be kind to ourselves and to each other.
 
In this spirit of fostering self-care, we urge our students and colleagues to conserve their energy by exercising their choice to participate in informed conversations that acknowledge the nation’s difficult racial history and seek to understand social disparities and structural inequalities within their proper historical context. Some of us are historians who remember that the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, popularly known as the Kerner Commission Report, was a New York Times best seller in early 1968. We watch the current social unrest in cities and communities throughout the nation and wonder if the United States of America would be a different and better place today had the Kerner Commission’s substantive recommendations for police reform and social investment been embraced rather than ignored. But, most important, we remember the many people who have lost their lives to racially-motivated police violence.
 
We say their names, as we remember: Michael Stewart (1983), Eleanor Bumpurs (1984), Ernest Sayon (1994), Nicholas Heyward Jr. (1994), Anthony Baez (1994), Amadou Diallo (1999), Patrick Dorismond (2000), Ousmane Zongo (2003), Timothy Stansbury Jr. (2004), Sean Bell (2006), Aiyana Stanley-Jones (2010), Rekia Boyd (2012), Ramarley Graham (2012), Jonathan Ferrell (2013), Eric Garner (2014), Michael Brown (2014), Michelle Cusseaux (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Akai Gurley (2014), Mya Hall (2015), Matthew Ajibade (2015), Eric Harris (2015), William Chapman (2015), Tanisha Anderson (2015), Walter Scott (2015), Sandra Bland (2015), Aura Rosser (2015), Meagan Hockaday (2015), Philando Castile (2016), Deborah Danner (2016), Charleena Lyles (2017), Botham Jean (2018), Atatiana Jefferson (2019), Shukri Ali (2020), Ahmaud Arbery (2020), Breonna Taylor (2020) and George Floyd (2020), to name only a few.
 
To remember someone is to hold space in our hearts that honors their humanity.
 
To say someone's name is to invoke the power of that person's life.
 
We say their names and we remember.
 
Sincerely,
 
SUNY Empire Racialized Faculty Caucus
 

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