Dear Members of the Cummings School Community:
The recent acts of racism and violence that have swept across the country this past week are disturbing, but especially so to those who are touched more closely by events like this. As shocking as the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is to us, the national protests that have erupted starkly highlight the magnitude and systemic nature of racism in this country.
We want to acknowledge the pain, suffering, and outrage many of us are feeling over George Floyd’s death and other recent incidents of racial injustice. Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher in Central Park, was reported to police by a white woman for “threatening her life” after he asked her to leash her dog as required in that section of the park. Breonna Taylor was shot by police as she lay in bed in the middle of the night in her own home. Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by a white man and his son while he was jogging in Georgia.
These distressing events have been made more so because they are layered onto the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of family members and friends and the social isolation, have made many of us feel even more alone and vulnerable.
But although some have called COVID-19 the “great equalizer,” this is not true. The pandemic has hit people and communities of color and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups more deeply than others—resulting in higher rates of infection and mortality and more economic hardship. Racism and physical attacks on Asian-Americans have spread with the COVID-19 pandemic.
If your reaction, like many of ours, was to feel anger and despair at recent incidents, know you are not alone. Can we turn our initial reactions into something bigger than our individual selves? The Cummings School community is built on our beliefs in trust, equity, and caring for all our faculty, staff, and students. People of color and other marginalized groups need our support and compassion during this time and as part of our daily lives here in our community.
Please reach out to your friends and others at Cummings School who may be impacted and traumatized by these recent events.
Please know that we are thinking of everyone in what are turning out to be even more troubled times than we could have anticipated, but our hearts are most with those who have been more closely affected.
Alastair E. Cribb
Dean, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Climate
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine