Community Message on Racial Injustice
June 4, 2020
Dear Cedar Crest Community,
On Saturday, May 30, I issued a statement via email to the internal Cedar Crest campus community regarding the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black lives taken by the systemic oppression and racism that is inherent in our country. In it, I stated that “We will not be silent in the face of injustice.” And yet, in the absence of sharing that message publicly and with our alumnae community, Cedar Crest has appeared to be just that: silent in the face of injustice. I deeply regret that.
Many in our community have reached out to me personally or posted on social media to express their feelings of frustration and anger and ask the College to take a deeper look at how it can do more to make meaningful change. I hear you and am committed to leading the College in that work.
Cedar Crest believes that Black lives matter, but also that it is not enough to say that we see our Black community, that we hear our Black community, and that we stand with our Black community. We must see in ourselves the ways we hold up systemic racism, knowingly and unknowingly, and work vigorously to dismantle them. We must listen to the Black community, but understand that it is OUR job, not theirs, to educate ourselves about the roots of racism and how to support anti-racist activism. We must stand up and march forward with a plan of action to become an institution that embodies at every level what we say we stand for.
Cedar Crest has been working toward fostering an inclusive community that recognizes and celebrates diversity over the years. But in the face of the stark effects of systemic racism that we have witnessed, it is time to recommit ourselves to that work, particularly as it relates to the ongoing and indefensible threat to Black lives. This will take time and unwavering commitment. There are steps we can take immediately and others that will take longer to implement to support and advance the changes needed to end racism in our communities, country, and world:
- We have added a number of resources to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion website, and we will continue to add more as we become aware of them. Among them are ways to take action by donating, signing petitions, and registering to vote.
- In order to effect positive change, we cannot turn a blind eye to the uncomfortable truths present in America and in ourselves. This list offers recommendations for reading about Black history, anti-racism, white privilege, white fragility, and more.
- We will commit to finding and supporting meaningful ways that our educational mission and curriculum expands the presence of historical and contemporary perspectives on racial and ethnic injustice, environmental discrimination, and other important related topics into our academic and co-curricular experience.
- We want this to be a collaborative conversation and invite you to share your ideas, feedback, knowledge, and resources using this form. The feedback received will be evaluated by the Diversity & Inclusion Council and the cabinet. This feedback will form the next phase of our strategic initiative on diversity and inclusion.
- If you feel you have been a victim of racial discrimination or harassment at Cedar Crest, please contact the Bias Response Team using this form.
The history of injustice that these recent tragedies have brought to a tipping point, set against the backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of color, is painful and distressing. As a community, we grieve together and support one another. You are not alone.
No matter how hard or uncomfortable, the mission and vision of Cedar Crest College demand that we, as stewards of that mission, commit to doing this work and sustaining it. Let’s get started.
Elizabeth M. Meade, PhD
President, Cedar Crest College