Over the last three months, we have seen both the best and worst of humanity. Campuses and communities have demonstrated extraordinary care for one another. However, the pandemic brought xenophobia to the forefront of our society, and we continue to see racism and acts of violence directed at people of color. These blatant forms of racism, implicit bias, and racialized violence have a taxing effect on our staff of color and minoritized students. Bearing witness to these public events has a significant effect on how safe our colleagues and students feel in their own communities, and they reinforce the vital need for student affairs educators to understand and acknowledge the effects of privilege and oppression.
Individuals like Amy Cooper weaponize their White privilege to continue to oppress and demonize Black men. Law enforcement officers who use excessive force and abuse their power in unnecessary ways continue to plague our police departments, and as we saw in Minneapolis this week, resulted in the horrific and unnecessary death of George Floyd. Our communities are filled with individuals who wish to “stand their ground” and use the law to shield their racist actions. These are unacceptable situations, and they are not unique.
Racialized violence in this country has deep, deep roots, and digging out requires a combination of strategies: organizing, protest, electoral engagement, accountability for those who commit violence, legislative and policy changes, and more. There are no easy answers or fixes. This work must not fall solely on the shoulders of people of color. White people must join as allies in condemning racial violence and as committed partners in action and organizing.
NASPA calls on all our White members to step up, commit to anti-racism work, and engage in action-oriented solutions that address the systemic and institutional control that insulates us from this race-based stress. In the days and weeks ahead, NASPA and our constituent groups will hold virtual colleague conversations to ensure that we continue to learn and expand the network of support for our colleagues of color. Our mission and our responsibility to one another require purposeful dedication and commitment to combating racism and ending racial violence.