President Raymond on Becoming Antiracist
"If not at Haverford, where?"
I reach out to connect with you via words of invitation so that we can, together and individually, connect via action.
I offer this invitation during a month of grief, fury, and fear across the nation about the killings of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, which come juxtaposed upon our increasing clarity of the disproportionately harmful impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color in the United States. These killings are part of the growing list of killings of Black Americans that involve police or flawed law enforcement processes; these COVID-19 health disparities are part of systemic racial injustices in the US that include employment, health, public education, incarceration, and civil rights.
To our Black students, staff, and faculty and to all our students and colleagues of color: I join you in grief, anger, and outrage while acknowledging—and decrying—that you bear the undue burdens of lives at risk and collective trauma when structures meant to provide civil and health protections fail.
To those of you in the White majority at Haverford College, I seek to inspire and invite us all, and to inspire Haverford College, to grow our intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence about racism, inequality, and inequities - racism and inequities in America and racism and inequities in our own ways of knowing and being. We White members of this community need to take responsibility for doing this work. I invite all of us not yet on this path to join our students, faculty, staff, and alumni who already actively practice antiracism, recognizing that the goal of antiracism sits firmly in the educational mission and values of Haverford College, including the Quaker value of equality.
For those not familiar with the term “antiracist,” I invite you to see yourself in it and in our aspiration. I have compiled a set of resources below that is by no means complete but may provide a start. Please expand upon this; I welcome all suggestions.
Thank you to those of you who are moving us toward this antiracist aspiration, and for the many who have done so across Haverford’s history. In particular, I applaud our students and alumni, who often lead by alerting us to the ways and extents to which we must change—often whole cloth—in order to teach, mentor, and be in community inclusively. This generally requires persistence and risk, debts that we will owe perhaps forever, unless we might be able to pay them forward by the positive impacts of our antiracist future.
We have learned so much in a few months about a scourge previously unknown to humans – COVID-19. What are our reasons for allowing the scourge of racism to continue? Let us all apply our capacities to learn, create, adapt, discover, and thrive to becoming an antiracist institution. For if not at Haverford, where?
Words are important, and words are not enough. I hope you will accept my invitation to action.
Being Antiracist, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture