George Floyd Murder Anniversary Thinking – Building Community – UW – Madison
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I often start my morning with self-reflection and gratitude as part of a mindfulness program using the fundamentals: pause, breathe, and love. Specialists in contemplative science and other mindfulness practices recommend reflection as an act of well-being and self-care. When you get up each morning, do you reflect on the days before? Well, today there is nothing I can do but think about being black in America. One day, a year ago, when yet another black man’s life was violently ended and seen through the despicable prism of racism. How and why does this deeply rooted hatred, a health crisis of another type, systematically hurt a nation in search of peace and progress?
George Floyd should be alive today. Like us mark the anniversary of his murder by a Minneapolis cop, our hearts are with the Floyd family and the families of countless other black victims of racist violence. We all need to stop what we’re doing and remember what happened to George Floyd. We remember George Floyd and his last breath, and the countless extra lives lost to violence, illness or neglect.
Gatherings and calls for social justice across the country have learned more about the trauma and pain felt by generations. Together we have challenged ourselves and others; we were walking, signed petitions, donate, created art, reached out to our elected officials, joined local organizations, got educated, and found ways to use our power to help shape a better world. And while we were comforted to see a court hold Derek Chauvin accountable for his actions, we know that a verdict does not bring back a life that has been taken, nor bring the systemic change we need to end the crisis. racism. But maybe it can be a catalyst for change and start the healing process.
Let’s recognize that many of us are still in pain and need to think about how we are using this pain to move forward and make a difference. Let us continue to work together to focus on ending police violence and assaults on black lives and pledge to engage in constructive dialogue and reflection on how to create an anti-racist society. It’s the best way to honor the lives of George Floyd, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Tony Robinson, Ma’Khia Bryant and so many others.
This past year has indeed been filled with trials, hard work and transitions. The Diversity, Equity and Academic Success Division celebrates the resilience of the Class of 2021 and its peers, with 350 graduates from DDEEA’s Academic Success programs. You can Read more about these exceptional, now former academics, and a new Student Advisory Board, as well as our plans for the 2021 Diversity Forum: Rising Above and Reshaping our World in the Image of Justice. And I encourage you to learn more and get more involved in the work being done on our campus to bring about lasting change, through resources like the Diversity inventory, Campus Climate Status Report and Diversity Framework.
We have learned so much about how to lobby for our systems to change while advocating for justice. Stop today to remind yourself and recognize that we know there is much more work to be done for true justice to prevail. Breathe today to center your humanity and take care of yourself. Love today; let’s recognize and support each other. As always, I am in community with you to continue to do the work that we need to do to see our collective change materialize here.
Cheryl B. Gittens
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion
Elzie Higginbottom Vice-Provost and Chief Diversity Officer
Diversity, Equity and Academic Achievement Division
University of Wisconsin-Madison