On Tragedy, Inequity and the Need for Positive Change
May 29, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
The tragic and wrongful deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia are painful reminders of Black men and women losing their lives to egregious, unjust and prejudicial acts of violence.
Sadly, the injustices they represent are a small sample of deaths people of color are experiencing in our country. In the havoc caused by COVID-19, there are similar disparities among those who die from the virus and those who recover. People from groups who have historically experienced discrimination, poverty, and social disadvantage are the first to lose lives to this disease.
To be clear, the virus does not choose people of color, tribal nations or others from under-represented groups. Deaths associated with the virus among these groups are attributable to systemic inequities in the larger society: the compounded stressors and disadvantages faced by marginalized communities, inadequately equipped local hospitals and clinics, and under-resourced public health programs.
At Evergreen, we promote equity and justice. As a community, we agree to protect and respect the rights and freedoms of individuals as part of the value framework that directs our teaching and learning. Social justice is a value we embrace; it guides our commitment to our students, and is the focus of many of our academic programs, classes, and community internships.
The longstanding crisis of violence against people based on race, ethnicity or political status, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 is intolerable. Meaningful solutions to these tragedies must focus on long-term remedies to social, economic and racial inequality in the U.S.
To our soon-to-be graduates, we urge you to follow Evergreen’s commitment to protecting the rights and freedoms of all people in our country. And we urge you to engage the complexity of social injustice and inequality, seeking constructive solutions to these critical problems.
Evergreen remains committed to promoting social justice through the students we serve and the education we offer. While we look to the future of the college, we will not waiver in our work to engage and address inequities in the health, welfare and treatment of underrepresented people in our society.
As we grieve for these lives lost, we must be part of a positive wave of action and change, which our country so profoundly needs.
George S. Bridges
The Evergreen State College