Dear Carolina Community:
The disturbing Wisconsin atrocity suffered by Jacob Blake, an African American man, shot in the back seven times by Rusten Sheskey, a white Kenosha police officer, has left people across the world reeling with disgust. With each passing day, many Americans demonstrating their commitment to restorative justice and the eradication of racial inequities in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. For others, it’s simply surreal that yet another Black man has been shot by a white police officer in light of the countless marches, peaceful protests, and calls for reform because of the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, sadly, among many others too numerous to name but forever in our thoughts.
American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived.” For members of our community, the police brutality enacted against Black and Brown people has created an endless, vicious cycle of racial trauma and discrimination that they must relive over and over again. The result of this never-ending “Groundhog Day” has a profound cumulative impact on the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Many are asking, “What can we do? What can be done?”
Over the course of the next several months, the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion will continue to drive efforts to challenge systemic racism and support collective healing. We will host the first webinar in Race, Racism and Racial Equity (R3) Series: “The Historical Exploitation of Black and Brown Bodies at UNC: Learning from the Past to Change the Present.” The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, September 10 from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. The purpose of the R3 symposium is to highlight important UNC research that addresses race and racial equity and to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. The R3 virtual series helps us all to understand our role and the analyses that informs dismantling systems of oppression.
Later this month, the UNC System will distribute a Racial Equity Climate Survey to all students, faculty, and staff in the 17 member institutions. This system-wide assessment seeks to understand how racial diversity, equity, and inclusion are perceived across the UNC System, evaluates where and how the UNC System should support and prioritize racial equity, and gain insight and feedback from the various stakeholders. Our hope is that the institutional data collected will serve as a baseline from which we can track our own organizational progress toward building and advancing racial equity.
During the remaining months of the fall semester, we will work with senior leadership and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council members on compiling a campus-wide report, Standing Against Structural Racism, Standing for Racial Equity. This document will explore Carolina’s strengths and weaknesses, identify what individual schools and divisions are currently doing and can do to be proactive for racial equity change in their respective units. The report will also provide best practices on strategies and activities, potential next steps and opportunities to continue to embed a racial equity lens across the University.
For more information and updates, please visit our website: https://diversity.unc.edu/.
Additionally, the University Office of Diversity and Inclusion has curated anti-racism resources for your use: https://diversity.unc.edu/yourvoicematters/anti-racism-resources/.
Sibby Anderson Thompkins
Special Advisor to the Provost and Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion/
Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Gretchen C. Bellamy
Senior Director for Education, Operations and Initiatives