Our hearts are heavy. Over the past several days, we have been bombarded with the news of racist acts happening across our nation. We are appalled and saddened by the recent incidents that have occurred, and we condemn the use of excessive force—particularly by those sworn to protect and serve—and the subsequent killings, as well as the institutional racism that perpetuates and tolerates them. We have witnessed the tragic and senseless killings of numerous African Americans month after month, year after year, decade after decade. This reality is an affront to those who have fought tirelessly throughout history to ensure freedom and justice for all.
We are a nation in pain. As we hear the news of yet another human life taken, we experience a range of emotions—anger, sadness, hurt, frustration, and outrage. We fear for the safety of our loved ones, friends, students, colleagues, and even ourselves. People of color must constantly live with the reality that their skin is weaponized and seen as a threat, in addition to now having to navigate the stressors of a pandemic.
Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The Division of Diversity and Engagement stands ready to identify, challenge, and eliminate injustice on campus, in our state, and in our country. To this end, we will continue conversations around racism and bias and chart courses of action, and we call upon all Vols to join us in addressing these issues.
Although DDE has an important role in battling racism and inequality in all forms, this fight will take all of us working together. We look forward to partnering with all of you to make our campus community a place where everyone—especially our students, staff, and faculty of color—can feel safe, welcomed, and included.
Division of Diversity and Engagement Staff