Dear friends, students, faculty, and staff in the College of Arts & Sciences,
In his 1972 book No Name in the Street, the late author and activist James Baldwin wrote: “Well, if one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected – those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! – and listens to their testimony.”
This past week’s uprisings have been a resounding call to action. In the streets of Syracuse, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, London, Tehran, and Auckland hundreds of thousands have put their bodies on the line. They did so (and continue to do so today) to illuminate and decry unjust and inhumane acts of violence, and a corresponding lack of accountability. They are fed up with inequalities, racism, and the militaristic response by law enforcement to these uprisings. I hear their testimonies loud and clear.
Before the senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, our campus was rocked by acts of racist vandalism and graffiti. These acts do not represent who we are. The College of Arts and Sciences condemns all acts of racial violence: from hate speech, to physical repression, to structural violence that denies opportunities to Black and Indigenous people of color.
But we can’t stop there. We cannot simply declare ourselves non-racists. We must walk, talk, teach, research, lead, and demand anti-racist action. Yes, allow yourselves to be angered and sad. A person with privilege who truly wants to eradicate hate and injustice must actively work against it.
As the home of the liberal arts at Syracuse University, many of our departments and affiliated centers offer courses and events that address the history, systems, and disastrous effects of oppression—while also providing avenues for activism. As the fall semester approaches, I invite you join us as we work together to acknowledge and fight racism.
I hope you stay safe and well during these difficult times.
Dean and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
College of Arts and Sciences