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Producing episode 33 of The Research Her podcast was a bust because I could not bring myself to think about anything but the current state of our country. I am sad that in 2020 we still are not seen as human. We are still fighting for basic human rights. With that, I did not curate an episode this week because I still do not know what to say. Instead, I want to let you know that I too am in pain at what is going on.
I wrote a letter to someone at my university who reached out to me which was very well received but it greatly describes my current emotions. Here are some inserts from the email.
I am very disappointed. I am not sure if I missed it, but it seems as though my university has yet to send out a formal statement regarding the most recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others that we were forced to be exposed to and the tweet by the University was very “all lives matter” in nature and lacked substance.
The university sent out email after email after email at the breakout of the COVID pandemic. We got emails from multiple sources on campus. That is how urgent it is when white lives are dying, but what about the pandemic which is racism/anti-blackism in our country and across the world. Black lives need that same energy! We wanted to see the same amount of urgency for the war against senseless Black murders. Is it the fear of being annoying? Can’t be! We all know what it was like getting COVID notifications.
I understand that it is difficult to handle something like this especially during a worldwide pandemic but imagine how it feels to be going through all of that PLUS your family and friends are dying at a disproportionate rate from the virus PLUS feeling like your institution (and the department that has shown you off as a diversity number) is running to get back to business as usual when your community is in pain asking for people to STOP and acknowledge that we are human and deserving of some type of (social) reparations.
We do not want to hear “diversity and inclusion” right now… we want it to be very specific language. Black people are dying and the Department should be working to support its Black students. I love this analogy. If your neighbor’s house was on fire when the fire department came to remove the fire, would you look at the firefighters and say “all houses matter… pay my house attention too.” No. Your house is not on fire right now. Let your neighbor get the attention that they need and that they deserve.
Uncomfortable conversations need to be had and changes need to be made. I have no idea where to start. That is not my area of expertise but there are professional people who do just this for a living and who could provide support to any institutions and organizations who actually care enough to do the work. I am hoping that at minimum the department which I have bragged on so heavily could be a leader in social justice reform for academia.