Dear CCI Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni and Friends,
I’m writing to add my voice to those expressing anger and concern at the most recent murder of an unarmed black man – George Floyd – in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unfortunately, Mr. Floyd’s murder is simply the latest injustice that has resulted in black men and women being much more likely to be killed by the police than are white men and women (2.5 times and 1.4 times more likely respectively).
There is no easy answer as to why this continues to happen, but one thing is certain, the time has come for us to stop talking and start being proactive so that individuals like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many more will not have died in vain. I am not black, so I don’t know what it’s like to drive down the street, take a walk in my neighborhood, go shopping in a store, birdwatch in the park, try to hail a taxi or do all sorts of other common, everyday things knowing that doing those things puts me in danger based on the color of my skin. As a white individual, I have the privilege of not thinking twice about going about my day.
The messages at the links above express in no uncertain terms that we grieve for and with our black colleagues, students, alumni, friends and neighbors. We support and stand with them, and we pledge to take action to make things better. As dean of the College of Communication and Information, this means that we will redouble our diversity and inclusion efforts by: expanding diversity and inclusion educational opportunities for CCI faculty, staff, and students; increasing the diversity of CCI faculty, staff, and students; improving our faculty mentoring program with particular focus on diverse faculty; and fully participating in campus-wide efforts to combat racism and promote mattering and belonging.
We are all part of the Volunteer family, and we acknowledge that we have many problems with which to deal. However, we are inspired by the fact that “Vol Means All!” We will not let the forces of racism and hatred defeat us. At such a time as this, we have the opportunity to come together as a diverse, complex family to confront difficult truths while working toward a future of enlightenment and hope!
Dean Mike Wirth