Responding to Anti-Black Racism

May 2020

As we come to the end of an academic year that has been unsettling in so many ways, I was horrified and saddened to hear of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor—which was only amplified when I learned that two Black trans women, Monika Diamond and Nina Pop, were also recently killed. And there are almost certainly more deaths that haven’t been as prominent in the media.

If you are like me, the news of yet more violent acts against Black lives may have affected you deeply or added to a growing sense of exhaustion, particularly during this time of pandemic-related fear and uncertainty. For some of us, the murders brought to mind experiences in our own lives or those of our loved ones, and reminded (or perhaps revealed to) others that racism and White supremacy are still pervasive in our society.

Last weekend, my brother texted me photos of his son posing in his high school graduation gown. The thought of my beautiful nephew being constantly seen as less or other than he is as he transitions to college makes my heart heavy. I want him—and all of UMD’s Black students, faculty and staff—to know that there are those who see and appreciate you. We want to create spaces where you can show up as your authentic self, and we want you to know we will accept and embrace you.

Creating—and broadening—those spaces is the work my office is called to do, and we are here for you. It is also the responsibility of every individual and office on campus to create those spaces, and we are here to work with you.

As we all process these events, I particularly hope our campus community will take this opportunity to learn more about racism and anti-Blackness as we continue our work together. Here is a primer on responding to anti-Blackness (pdf). If you are interested in developing your anti-racist capacity this summer, you can subscribe to ODI’s newsletter for future resources. Let’s work together.

Sincerely,

Georgina Dodge, PhD Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

Please also know there are available campus resources (ODI, the Counseling Center, UMD's chaplains, the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA), Student Affairs leaders and staff, and others) that can offer support. Connecting with friends, colleagues, professors, and others can be powerful and healing.