Following the Violence at the Capitol
President Wendy Raymond shared the following message with the Haverford community after the violence at the Capitol.
I reach out to you to connect at a time when disruption, continuity, and change are once again center stage following the temporary breach of the United States Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters. Incited by the president’s words, and parading explicitly racist and anti-Semitic symbols, these rioters violently attempted to add another obstruction to the US’s presidential election process and outcome.
Many have noted the conduct of Capitol police toward the largely white group of rioters as well as the broader context of a general lack of preparedness by law enforcement. The contrast to the aggressive treatment of peaceful assemblies of Black Lives Matter protestors elevates yet another illustration of our nation’s immediate and abiding imperative to redress anti-Black racism.
These events happened on the same day, January 6, that we learned that voters in the state of Georgia had elected just the eleventh Black senator in the history of the US Senate, Reverend Raphael Warnock. Also on that day, within hours of being moved to safe quarters, members of the US Congress and Senate returned to their chambers to complete the final, formal step of verifying the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president.
Some have said, “This is not who we are.” I disagree. This is the United States of America, in all its complexity. That complexity is not always on full display, or not always so transparent for all to see. After the events in the nation’s capital this week, we and the world can no longer deny the seriousness of myriad internal threats to our democracy—threats that have been historically and disproportionately waged against minoritized members of our country.
We are experiencing this disruption within the continuing eruption of COVID-19, with families in the US enduring the deaths of 370,000 loved ones. The rising death toll, experienced disproportionately in our nation’s Black, Latinx, and Native American populations, reveals, unfortunately, myriad failures to embrace collective smart and empathetic action based on scientific evidence. Straightforward mechanisms lessen the disease’s spread; these are simple and accessible habits we know well and that communities around the world, including at Haverford, are practicing daily.
Simultaneous to the grave realities of COVID-19’s continuation, we have been encouraged by the counterbalance of heroic work by healthcare providers; frontline workers of all kinds, including those here at Haverford College who have ensured our safety and wellbeing with their vital work; and vaccine scientists, developers, clinical study volunteers, manufacturers, and distributors. We know how to live with this virus and minimize its spread. I am thankful at Haverford for everyone’s diligence and care for one another. Even still, our fellow students and colleagues have had heartbreaking losses among families and friends. Our adjustments continue as we experience separation, loneliness, changes in economic and living conditions, continuing uncertainties, and fears of the unknown.
These are indeed unprecedented times of great social and political discord during a virulent worldwide pandemic. We are traversing this together, connected through Haverford by our shared values of education, justice, racial equity, contributing to the greater good, and building community by caring for and about one another. We aspire to live up to these values. I see you and our alumni doing that every day, every week, year in and year out, as lifelong learners committed to concerns larger than ourselves.
There will always be and has always been resistance and obstruction to these values. That is a given. Nonetheless, we will persist in ever moving forward while also being ever ready to discover, engage, and create in response.
The value of education is so fundamental to how you and I conduct our lives that it is not always even recognized as a “value.” I lift up this articulation of education as a value because I think its application is at the core of many of the ills affecting the United States right now. In living through a time when falsehoods and outright lies readily gain widespread traction, we see the importance of this value all the more clearly. I probably need not say that education is a value that is not universally shared.
You inspire my unwavering faith in the capacities built into a liberal arts education. In any scenario, would we not be better off through the openings to human understanding provided by every field in our curricula? We elevate understanding and fuel discovery by learning to think critically, solve problems, question assumptions, articulate ideas, and engage across differing perspectives. We are privileged to be enmeshed in a community that values continual learning across various ways of knowing.
You inspire my unwavering faith in the capacities built into community, and in our ongoing actions to build, question, iterate, and rebuild community at Haverford. We continue to embrace antiracist frameworks to forge paths toward everyone’s own sense of belonging. Haverfordians the world over, in fields from education to human relations to medicine to the arts, are enmeshed in this same work.
I am here for you, as we are here for each other, in tough times and in better times. These are tough times. Let’s build a better Haverford and a better world. Now more than ever, the world needs what you have to offer.