Dear Members of the Barnard Community,
Although we are not physically together at the moment, I have seen so many ways in the past several months in which the Barnard community has stepped up to support one another — even in the darkest moments of loss on our campus and in our community. It is in this spirit of support that I write to you today to denounce, in the strongest possible form, the anti-Black violence and rhetoric that is currently unfolding across the nation.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others serve as horrific reminders of how structural racism is enacted in this country. The pain that these injustices inflict, especially to members of the black community, is immeasurable. And that these atrocities have occurred during the current pandemic, which has disproportionately affected people of color, only adds to the distress. The fact that people of all ethnicities are gathering in protest, even while many states are just beginning the process of a gradual reopening, further demonstrates the pain inflicted by the inequalities that continue to plague our society.
Barnard is an institution that aims to interrogate racism and systemic discrimination in all its forms and to produce knowledge and actions that help address entrenched disparities in our society. One example is the work being done at the Barnard Center for Research on Women around interrupting criminalization and transformative justice. I encourage you to learn about and get involved in this important work that we are fortunate to have at Barnard.
Every institution, including our own, has work to do here. Our educational mission demands that we speak up when we see violence against other human beings and relentlessly commit to the creation of a more just society.
There are resources available to you in these difficult times. Students can call Furman Counseling Center at 212-854-2092 for consultation and referral to counseling resources in their local community during the summer months. Faculty and staff can make use of our Employee Assistance Program through Humana at 800-448-4358.
I also encourage you to look for ways to support black communities and those in need across the nation. Vice President of DEI Ariana González Stokas, the Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Athena Center for Leadership, and Barnard SGA are all sources of information and have resources you can access.
There are moments in history that test who we are and what we stand for. There are many ways to struggle for justice. There are many ways to express solidarity. The first is to commit to anti-racism and to find, even in small ways, how we can contribute in our own work toward racial justice and equality.
Please take care of yourself and each other during these challenging times.
Sian Leah Beilock