With the convergence of three national crises – the recent deaths of George Floyd while in the custody of police and Breonna Taylor, shot by police in her apartment, and the resulting righteous protests, the persistent and overwhelming pandemic, and the growing economic downturn manifested by historical levels of unemployment, I am struck by how much further this nation needs to progress in the collective journey towards positive social change and fair-minded critical thinking. Ibram X. Kendi in his book How to be an Antiracist wrote “Racist ideas love believers, not thinkers.”
Our current reality is that African-Americans and people of color are disproportionality and adversely impacted by both the pandemic and the looming unemployment crisis. Both of these outcomes are resultant of hundreds of years of systemic and structural racism and discrimination.
Additionally, African-American men and women continue to be victims of unimaginable and extreme brutality while in police custody. In the reality of this weekend, I can’t begin to presume the grief and anger the Floyd and Taylor families must be feeling. We all should feel hurt and anguish.
But let’s not let hurt and anguish be where our feelings and actions stop. If PVCC is to be part of the solution around any of these three national crises, we need for these feelings to then translate into compassion, empathy and love for all. We need to do more than just commenting after the fact on the injustices or academically articulate on the impact of fair-minded critical thinking. We as fair-minded critical thinkers and leaders need to be more “all in” every day.
These events have caused me to pause and reflect on the following questions: To what degree are our efforts around equity and diversity and inclusion really making a difference? How can we accelerate the accomplishment of our diversity and inclusion goals that are a part of our long-standing culture at PVCC?
These are extraordinary times providing PVCC an opportunity to confront pain with a renewed commitment to sustained positive social change. Following the system-wide conversations announced today by the Chancellor, PVCC will hold several open, virtual conversations to better understand and challenge our actions moving forward. Details of our conversations will be available soon.