Inclusively Yours, Dean Love-Vaughn
This has been a challenging week for me and people who look like me. The protests that have followed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the ugly confrontation in Central Park are the result of people in the Black community being tired , frustrated, angry, and in pain from decades of not being valued, not being heard, not being seen, not being believed, not being respected, and above all not being treated equally or equitably.
Like most, I did not know Mr. Floyd or the others, yet I empathize and grieve with their family and friends because sadly their deaths or experiences are not unlike so many who have gone before them. As a Black woman, wife, mother, friend, mentor, and professional who champions diversity and inclusion of ALL people I find myself struggling mentally and emotionally from the weight of all of the racial injustice. It concerns and saddens me.
I’m concerned that the raw emotions people are feeling will grow and the focus on the injustices of these deaths will be forgotten. We saw this with the marginalization of Colin Kapernick’s silent nonviolent protest of taking a knee to end police brutality.
I’m concerned that a Black student or alum of ours, a Black faculty or staff member, my daughter, my husband, or me could be next – all because the color of our skin has been weaponized. We have become a stereotyped threat to some who don’t know us.
I’m sad to think that when the protests end and the dust settles very little will change. Most will be lulled back into a false sense of security and history will repeat itself. We will once again be reminded of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, the Central Park Five, Rodney King, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Trayvone Martin, Freddie Gray, and countless others.
Lastly, I’m sad that more non-Black people are not speaking up about what they’re seeing or checking in on their friends or family who are Black. Let me say this, we ARE NOT okay. This is not a statement intended to elicit guilt, it is a statement of our reality. To those of you who have reached out THANK YOU!
As Dr. Guice stated in his email yesterday, “We condemn all acts of racism, discrimination, and hatred. These acts defy the very spirit of Louisiana Tech, and they negate our belief in our Tenets.”
To our Black students, faculty and staff we want you to know that we see you, we hear you, we respect you, we believe in you, and we value you. We understand and respect your right to be frustrated, angry, tired and hurt. I am one of you and every day I work to ensure we are included fairly. Inclusive excellence is about ensuring all on our campus are treated with dignity and respect equally and equitably. Every day we strive for this goal.
To our non-Black students, faculty and staff, I realize that some of you may be searching for what to say or what to do on behalf of anti-racism work. My suggestion is that you educate yourself on the issues. Review the history of our country beyond the history books, diversify your information base and have an open mind to the challenges of any thinking opposite of your own. Also, understand if Black people are not able or ready to have those conversations with you right now.
I ask that we all listen actively. Seek to understand. Foster a supportive and inclusive community for all to learn and grow. Have open conversations. Acknowledge the fear, pain, anger, and worries of our Black students and colleagues. It may hurt to hear certain things. Don’t take it personally.
To access a list of anti-racism resources to aid you in your understanding of the historical events and the long withstanding effects of these events click here. Please feel free to reach out to the Multicultural Affairs staff as you see the need. We are here to assist.
Devonia Love-Vaughn, MSW
Dean of Inclusion Initiatives & Student Success
Louisiana Tech University Multicultural Affairs