Confronting Racism in Our Society

A statement in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery

Jun 4, 2020

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

Even as our nation struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to bear witness to the reality that systemic racism and injustice pervades our society. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are but the latest examples of violent and dehumanizing acts of racism across the country. I am heartbroken and outraged by these tragedies, and I know that the CMU community around the world shares my concern for the victims’ families, and for those in our community who are most impacted by these hateful acts. Please know that we see you, we care about you and we are here for you. While I recognize I cannot fully understand the pain, anxiety and fear these events inflict on Black and African Americans, including many in our own community, I know that it is up to each one of us – no matter our background – to confront and dismantle racism and injustice wherever they exist.

At times like this we must reflect on what we can do to make society, including our own community, more just. It would be inadequate to restate our commitment to respect, value, and foster diversity, equity and inclusion across our community. We know we have much work to do to live out these values at Carnegie Mellon. Learning about each other’s lived experiences; engaging with and supporting colleagues; challenging injustice when we witness it; and, especially, actively listening to each other will truly help us build the campus climate we seek.

Uniting in the face of challenging times is the Carnegie Mellon way. Acts of solidarity at The Fence, community discussions and listening sessions have helped us all grieve and heal together. Although we cannot gather in traditional ways, we will be working in the days and weeks ahead to curate virtual opportunities to consider actions we as a community can take to be the change we wish to see in the world. In the meantime, we ask our entire community to come together, with humility, compassion and empathy, to support one another, including those who are feeling especially vulnerable now.

With great respect for you and every member of our community,

Farnam Jahanian
President
Henry L. Hillman Chair