A Message from President Mellon that Speaks to Ending Systemic Racism and Oppression

Mercy - The Principal Path

A Message to the Members of the Carlow University Community

June 1, 2020

Today, our country is reeling in pain, anger and sadness, and is once again experiencing the emotional and psychological trauma of another senseless death at the hands of those sworn to protect us. The horrifying images of George Floyd’s death have shocked and grieved us, adding to the number of such incidents and resulting in wide-spread protest. This is further compounded with the effects of the continuing pandemic, further revealing health care disparities, reported in higher numbers with individuals of color in our country. We grieve for the African American community and the continuing challenges as a nation. We must confront and deal with the systemic changes needed for racism and injustice to end in our culture.

At Carlow University we have a stake in the ground on issues of social justice and equity. Last year we spent time with the writer, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and activist, Dr. Yusef Salaam, having critical conversations about the systemic racism that continues to plague our country. We talked about what it means to be an “anti-racist”, and we witnessed in Yusef Salaam, a man who had turned a grave injustice into a force for change and good. And we were inspired. Thus, I ask that each of us take action that is anti-racist. Call out actions, statements, humor, anything that seeks to diminish and make light of racism, wherever you encounter it. Only our collective actions will demonstrate the integrity of our values as a community.

Today, more than ever before, we need to overtly participate in bringing about change in our country. We cannot allow bitterness and anger to prevail; we must find constructive ways to create equity and justice in our society. To that end, I am charging the President’s Council on Equity, Inclusion and Community and the Social Justice Institutes to set this as a priority for this upcoming year and lead our campus community in a call to action with the focus on calling out and ending injustices everywhere and further building on what we have done and further engaging us as a community. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us more than 40 years ago: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

One such action is to support, participate, or get involved in an upcoming July 1 event. Dr. Maleea Johnson, Director of Equity and Inclusion, is currently working on a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, some of their black student leaders, and Carlow student leaders to host a webinar on July 1 surrounding the issues raised by Mr. Floyd’s death. Many educators in our community are hearing students say they want to know how they can find solidarity during these violent times and what outlets or forums are available for students to express how they feel about these acts of violence against humanity.

In the meantime, I ask you to join me in responding to the Sisters of Mercy’s invitation for us to pray for the countless individuals whose lives were cut short by senseless acts of violence; we pray for the African American community, we pray for our nation, and we pray for humanity. Pray that we can find the grace to turn to one another in love, understanding and peace, and work together as a nation to abolish the sin of racism.

As a Catholic, Mercy institution, we take great pride in the diversity of our community, we value the principles of inclusion and hospitality, and we know that our differences are what make us strong. That is who we are as a University grounded in Catholic Social Teaching and our values and the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy, to end systemic racism and oppression to those without voice. We are striving to create a place where all voices are honored, supported, and in solidarity. Today, we stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters, we share their sorrow, we share their outrage at the continued senseless acts of violence, and we commit to being together as a voice for justice.

Sincerely,

Suzanne K. Mellon, Ph.D.
President


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