President’s Message: Black Lives Matter, 6/1/20

President's Message: Black Lives Matter, 6/1/20

Dear Members of the Drew Community,

Black Lives Matter. I write today to embrace our black and brown Drew community members, and to express the love and solidarity of the Drew community in this time of pain and heartache.

Yet another unarmed or defenseless black or brown person has been killed by the police. Yet again, the killing is described as “senseless.” We grieve for George Floyd, who—like Eric Garner—was killed while begging to breathe, the single most basic of human needs. We are in anguish and despair over Mr. Floyd’s death, not because he was the victim of a “senseless” killing, but because he was killed as the result of a deliberate action, motivated by his race, at the hands of police. Our anguish and despair is very, very sadly not a new feeling.

History has repeated itself more times than we can count. As we grieve for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, we recognize all too well these feelings, because we have grieved for countless others before them. We grieve for our country and its citizens, and we watch as the people of our cities and our nation express this profound and collective sadness, suffering, and rage. With each unnecessary and violent death we cry out, each in our own way, for justice and equality, and for an end to racism in all its forms, only to find those ideals yet again beyond our nation’s grasp.

As a nation, we must not continue to define ourselves this way. As members of the Drew community we must be change leaders. We are guided by values of equality and social justice, and we have power collectively and individually. These values we learn and express at Drew are relevant, important, and urgent, and we must continue to live out these values on campus, in our hometowns, and in all of our interactions. In each and every instance, big and small, where we have the power to create change, we must act. Let those actions be guided by hope, determination, and unflagging persistence that Black Lives Matter.

In a close community like ours at Drew, we take solace in coming together, in talking with each other, and in expressing our care and concern for each other in person. That these events are once again brought to the forefront during a time of global pandemic means that we can’t be with each other in the ways we might. I urge you nevertheless to reach out to each other to express your feelings and to support each other, and to join together in prayer. You might draw inspiration from reading this personal message from Vice Provost and Dean of the Theological School Javier Viera, as I did.

At 7 p.m. this evening, Monday, June 1, Drew’s Black Student Union and Student Engagement Diversity Programs will host a forum for healing with Dr. Broderick Sawyer, a clinical psychologist who specializes in race-based stress and trauma. The forum is open to all via this Zoom link. For more information, visit Drew’s Black Student Union’s Instagram page or contact Coordinator of Residential Engagement Rachel Sawyer at rsawyer@drew.edu.

If you are experiencing personal anxiety, emotional distress, or grief, Drew provides resources to assist, including those of our Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, the Employee Assistance Program (Call 800-311-4327; Compweb ID: GEN311), and other services.

Sincerely,
MaryAnn Baenninger
President