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I would like to believe that a guilty verdict means that change is possible. That this country is finally turning a corner in the struggle for racial justice. That this society is finally saying that the unjust murder of a Black man cannot be tolerated.
It is difficult to be optimistic though. As the Chauvin trial played out, we again heard about the egregious treatment that George Floyd received during the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that led to his death. We once again watched the video and saw the images that showed how little George’s life meant to the police officer who held him against the ground. What is more, as this trial went forward two more young men of color, 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 20-year-old Daunte Wright, were shot and killed by police officers in situations that seemed not to warrant that level of violence. In the last few months, we’ve also dealt with an increase in hate crimes against Asians in the United States, mass shootings that resulted in more senseless fatalities, efforts to attack voting rights, the push for anti-transgender laws, an increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment, and the continued attacks on our immigrant communities.
At times like these, I find myself at a loss for words. Words to explain why incidents like these continue to happen with impudence. Words to provide hope and consolations. As an educator, I want to find a reason behind the injustice and violence. I want to put it into a historical and social context that will make sense. As a mother of two Black men, I want to find words to reassure my sons and other men like them that their lives have value and that they are safe in this country.
It is because I am an educator and a mother that I must continue to find the words to speak out about these injustices. As the president of an institution that predominantly serves people of color, I know that it is my responsibility to lead the way. I have made it my mission to make this College a space that promotes, honors, and celebrates racial justice, equity, and inclusion. By creating such a space, we are ensuring that all students can succeed in college and become leaders, creating a future where social justice is not an anthem at yet another protest, but a reality. The students of Whittier College are what give me hope that together we will create a future where the deaths of people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, and too many others to name, will no longer be tolerated.
As a College, we want to be a resource for students, faculty, and staff as we process this verdict and recent events. We will have resources posted online. I also welcome your comments, messages, and feedback.
Be well and be safe,
Linda S. Oubré, Ed.D. M.B.A.
President and Professor of Business Administration