Fort Hays State University Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Senior Diversity Officer, and Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Teresa Clounch sent the following email to FHSU students, faculty and staff earlier Friday:
Dear FHSU Students, Staff, and Faculty,
The past 100 days have brought to light the current climate based on systematic and institutional discrimination. The hate, dissension, and violence experienced by Blacks/African Americans leaves people wondering when will the change shift to antiracist views and practices. Being able to reimagine a world where racism is no longer a concern, is a dream many have.
People of color have been reimagining their lives, too. Reimagining an America without institutionalized racism has been the condition for Blacks/African Americans for hundreds of years. The recent death of Mr. George Floyd reminds the marginalized students, faculty, and staff of our community that the fundamental injustice of institutionalized racism has not changed.
Change. Change is necessary to breakdown the injustices of the American Dream. For many, that dream has been destroyed by the senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. By the harassment of Travis Miller while working as a delivery driver. And by the shameful confrontation experienced by Christian Cooper, while bird watching in New York City’s Central Park.
So, what are you doing to confront institutional racism and rebuild a system that is anti-racist? What you are doing to make a difference?
You are not expected to make a difference alone. Our university’s leadership acknowledges that “we can’t single-handedly fix all that is wrong” necessitates that we dedicate ourselves to do the work that prompts the change. Those with the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion in their titles must have your help to breakdown institutional racism.
Become an accomplice for change. An accomplice takes action against injustices. Acknowledge and embrace that change must take place and then ask how you can help. We can start right here on our campus. You can start in the community where you live and help your neighbors navigate these troubling times. Reach out. Talk to others. Be kind. For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed and need support, talk with a trusted colleague, faculty/staff, friend, or family member. And know I am here for you, too, as are the professional counselors at the Kelly Center.
This call for change is not an indictment of law enforcement. We recognize there are racist views in all professions, that is the very definition of institutionalized racism. We are grateful to those who protect and serve our communities. And for those who are advocates, allies, and accomplices for anti-racism, thank you, too.
What now? Acknowledge the need to address institutional racism. Engage in meaningful conversations with others about discrimination. Get involved with diversity and equity programs and commit to continued education. Bring microaggression training to your classroom. Have staff participate in Safe Zone training. Attend the Tunnel of Oppression. Join in Novels for Hope. To move forward and create change, we must work in concert so the thread of diversity, equity, and inclusion is woven into the fabric of the university by everyone who teaches, leads, advises, encourages, and interacts with every student, alum, faculty, and staff.
Dr. Teresa L. Clounch