Voices of Simmons

Connect, Educate, Vote

Dear Simmons Students, Parents, Faculty, Alumnae/i and Staff,

President Helen Drinan

I write today about the horrific deaths of African Americans at the hands of people who are sworn to protect and serve. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are but the latest victims of society’s inherent racism. I also want to acknowledge the incident in Central Park, where a white woman called police on birdwatcher Christian Cooper, which easily could have resulted in serious harm to Mr. Cooper. New York City, Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta and other American cities are but the latest to suffer violent demonstrations by citizens who feel unheard and who are actively engaged in pushing back against a country that seemingly won’t change.

We stand in solidarity with others who demand action and change.

It is not enough to share the anguish, dismay and terror. It is not enough to read and watch what our political, community and thought leaders think about these events. It is not enough to send thoughts and prayers.

A colleague recently shared an article about the trauma every Black American experiences as we watch the murder of George Floyd and other victims of police violence broadcast live. I have heard from Simmons community members about their emotional exhaustion and constant worry about their husbands, sons, brothers, brother-in-laws, cousins, nephews and friends who are Black. I know it is impossible for me to experience the systematic racism that others in our country feel every day. But my colleagues and I can commit the resources of Simmons University to provide a platform for more conversation and learning.

Here are some immediate things we can do:

Connect as a Community

Tuesday evening, June 2, at 6:00 p.m. EST, the College of Social Sciences, Policy and Practice (CSSPP), in collaboration with our Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion, and Equity (OCIE) will host a virtual community conversation about the national protests against police violence in the Black community. Assistant Dean for Community Engagement and Social Justice Gary Bailey will facilitate our discussion. We will soon forward a Zoom invitation with more details to everyone.

Educate ourselves and others

It is important to learn more about history, and to learn not just about what happened, but how it happened. Consider the books and postings from authors and advocates: Writer Robin DiAngelo and her book White Fragility; Dr. Craig Wilder, author of Ebony and Ivy; and Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist. In addition, I want to call your attention to author Ta-Nehisi Coates, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and National Book Award and his book The Water Dancer, a novel about living life in slavery. It is one of the most compelling reads of my lifetime.

Call Local Leaders and Vote

Change in leadership comes in many forms, not just every four years. Exercise your right to vote and advocate for change with your local legislators. Get involved in electing judges, district attorneys, state legislators and community boards who can influence change at the ground level.

All are welcome at the community conversation this week. I hope to see you there.


President Helen Drinan

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