Dear University of Arizona College of Education Community:

My message to you today is a difficult one, but I want to begin with some context.

Yesterday marked the 99th anniversary of what is believed to be the worst race riot in U.S. history. In 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was home to one of the most prosperous African American communities in the country. A riot that began at the Tulsa County Courthouse on the night of May 31, 1921, escalated into an assault on the all-Black Greenwood District on the morning of June 1. Thirty-five blocks of businesses, homes, and churches were left in smoldering ruins, leaving untold death and destruction. Greenwood was burned to the ground, with more than 10,000 Black people rendered homeless with no means of income. Some Blacks fled while others stood in self-defense of their lives and property. On June 1, 1921, the National Guard was called in to disarm Blacks standing in self-defense of their lives and livelihood.

And now, almost 100 years after that repugnant event in our history, we are, once again, in the throes of discord in every city in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. 

As writer Danielle Cadet notes in this recent article from Refinery29, “Over the last few months, Black people have not only watched their friends and family members die at higher rates from the coronavirus, they have also watched people who look like them be gunned down while going for a jog, be murdered in their homes, threatened while bird watching in Central Park, and mercilessly choked on camera.”

As a college, we seek to understand and fight against all levels of racism, and we are committed to creating a just and equitable world. In fact, last year, we deepened our commitment to creating inclusive, just, and non-racist environments, reflected in our new vision for the college: Enhancing Education Equity. Transforming Lives. 

I want to acknowledge this horrific time, and to let all of you know we stand with people who want accountability for George Floyd’s murder and for all the injustices Black communities have experienced and endured.

Next, because it is not the responsibility of Black people to be seen as responsible for the unjust system we live in, here is a list of anti-racist resources, including videos, podcasts, books, and resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children.

If you want to make a donation, sign a petition, contact your legislators, or help in some other way, please see this list of resources.

We must examine and re-examine our views and actions in light of such tragedy and grief. As Angela Davis said, “I'm no longer accepting the things I cannot change ... I'm changing the things I cannot accept.”