Racism and Responsibility: June 1, 2020

A message from President Harring to the Muhlenberg College community

 Monday, June 1, 2020 08:03 PM

Dear students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends,

The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor starkly demonstrate the racism and associated violence that pervades American society. The deaths of these Black Americans and the protests that have erupted across the country illustrate the persistent inequity in our nation, causing the anger, sadness and outrage that we see across the country and in our community. We all need to take responsibility—especially those of us in the White community—for the virulent anti-Black racism in our society. Black. Lives. Matter.

I know that words are hollow at this moment. There is nothing I can say that matches the gravity of this situation. But I am committed to building a community that supports, uplifts, and cares for Black lives. In order to effectively accomplish this, it is my responsibility, along with our community, to deepen our understanding of the history of Black lives in our country and how best to enact anti-racist practices in our community to address structural racism. I urge you to join me in this work. We must strengthen these efforts and support individual and collective action that drive us to this goal.

Last week I shared a message with the campus community and I want to reiterate those sentiments here as well—our College is committed to fundamental values of diversity, equity and humanity. We are committed to working together to build a more diverse and anti-racist community. That commitment comes with a responsibility for each one of us to speak and act in ways that support the dignity and worth of all people. We will continue to work in partnership with our community to make sure that the College is doing all it can to live up to these ideals and to support individual members of the Muhlenberg family.

The Office of Multicultural Life, the Associate Provost for Faculty and Diversity Initiatives and the Office of the Chaplain are planning a series of virtual gatherings for students, faculty, staff and alumni to hold space for our collective grief and to stand in solidarity and support as a community. I invite you to join us in the coming days.

Muhlenberg College condemns all acts of racial injustice, hatred and violence. We are steadfast in our belief in the inherent dignity and worth of all people. Our Black students, faculty, staff and their families live with the daily, minute-by-minute fear of pervasive racism in America. Those of us who are White need to do more—we need to resist the notion that others will take care of these issues, we need to support all people of color and use our privilege to speak the truth and change systemic inequities.

This is hard work. It is our responsibility to take it on. 

Kathleen E. Harring, Ph.D.
Interim President