'We Must Stand Up Against Intolerance and Injustice'
President Davis-Blake's Statement on Racial Injustice
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
The last few months of living in quarantine has been a life-altering experience for all of us. While we’ve adapted to learning, teaching and working remotely, the global pandemic has upended our daily routines, experiences and conventions. Like many of you, I closely follow the impact of COVID-19 on our community, commonwealth and nation. The grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 reminds us all of the toll this virus has taken on individuals and families. Personally, I’ve tried to balance the moments of frustration in isolation with walks around campus and the neighborhood, and time away from the computer screen, unwinding at home with my husband and sons. But “balance” has been particularly hard to achieve in recent days.
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were men and women with families and friends, careers and hobbies, and hopes and aspirations. George went to the store. Ahmaud went for a jog. Breonna was at home. Their lives were like those of many other men and women of color in America, including those in our own Bentley community. Deep-seated, systemic racism and violence meant George, Ahmaud and Breonna were in life-threatening — and life-ending — situations because of the color of their skin. So many people of color across this country endure prejudice, intolerance, bias and bigotry every day while undertaking ordinary activities. It happens in Minnesota, Georgia and Kentucky, but it also happens in Massachusetts, in Waltham, and in every one of our communities. These recent incidents have reminded us that it is incumbent upon all of us to stand up against injustice and intolerance, whenever and wherever we see it. The nationwide protests that have erupted over the past few days have left me both anxious and inspired. It is difficult to see my hometown of Minneapolis in flames, especially so near to family and friends. And yet, it is inspiring to see people take action against injustice, including my friend Joan Gabel, president of the University of Minnesota, who severed ties with the Minneapolis police department last week. This unprecedented action sends a strong message that acts of brutality and violence against people of color will not be tolerated.
As many members of the Bentley community are at home across the country in cities and communities impacted by these protests, I hope that all of you remain healthy, safe and unendangered. The stories, images and videos posted in the news and on social media reflect a broad cross-section of Americans who have gathered in solidarity and in frustration to demand a better tomorrow. Countless peaceful protesters in these cities are taking a stand against injustice and intolerance, just as many others have done for generations.
As I grappled this weekend with the hard question of “what can I do?”, simple and meaningful answers began to appear as I reflected on our Bentley Values. While none of us can bring back the lives that were lost, we can take responsibility for making the part of the world that we touch safer and more just.
- Care for one another and practice understanding, compassion and kindness.
- Welcome new perspectives and collaborate with others toward a common goal, seeking new partnerships.
- Embrace diversity and seek to understand those with different beliefs, backgrounds and life experiences. Do not wait for others to explain themselves to you; do the hard work of seeking to understand before passing judgment or taking action.
- Act with honesty and integrity, and hold ourselves accountable for words and actions.
- Recognize our potential to make a positive impact in the world as a force for good.
- Be eager and willing to learn, and try new experiences and ways of thinking.
- Respect each other and recognize the inherent dignity and worth of all members of our community, and strive to better understand and appreciate everyone with whom we interact.
I hope these Bentley Values may also inspire you in the days and weeks ahead, as you consider what you might do to change the world for the better. As a member of the Bentley community, living our values is expected of each of us. Together, we can and will build a stronger, safer, kinder and more peaceful future. I know that we are capable of it.
Please know that you are all on my mind. The university has resources available to support you, so please do not hesitate to reach out if you are in need of help.