June 4, 2020: We must say their names

David McAtee – James Scurlock – Tony McDade – George Floyd –  Sean Reed – Ahmaud Arbery – Nina Pop – Breonna Taylor – Botham Jean – Laquan McDonald – Sean Bell – Sandra Bland –  Freddie Gray – Tamir Rice – Eric Garner – Aura Rosser – Michael Brown – Philando Castille – Alton Sterling – Atatiana Jefferson – Trayvon Martin – Amadou Diallo – Emmett Till

“Keep my brother’s name ringing.” – Terrence Floyd

Dear Students,

We must say their names.  We must say their names loudly so that they are ringing.  We must say their names until their names become liberty bells ringing for freedom. While we fight for racial equality and justice, we will say their names.  When their names are ringing, their stories are shared, their lives are honored, their spirit is remembered, they become guiding ancestors, and their names and stories provide us with purpose.

In this moment, we must also consider our names and stories, and what purpose will the ringing of our names communicate to our friends, family, to our Black community. This moment of Black Death in our country is a reflection of a centuries old racism pandemic which has infected, impacted, and at times made unrecognizable, our country, our community, and our university. This is also your community, your education, your university; this is your space to claim, to decide the ringing of your name in this story.

If we are to hear the ringing, we must pause, we must listen to and understand the power of the words: Black, Undocumented, Indigenous, Anti-Racist, Christian, Bisexual, Equity, Lesbian, Diversity, Gay, Inclusion, Trans, Muslim, Queer, Intersex, American, Asexual, Love, Atheist, Latinx, Community, Asian, African, Agnostic, Pacific Islander, Desi, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, all these and many more embody the diaspora of Blackness. These collective intersectional identities are why Black Lives Matter is ringing around the world.

We cannot only listen, but need to break the silence.  We must call out the racial injustice experienced by our Black community over and over, we must not become numb to the violence we witness against Black bodies. With each uncountable killing of Black and Brown bodies we must name the pervasive policies of our government and institutions, identify with keen awareness the acts of white supremacy in our language and practices, be unwilling to allow continued ignorance of our friends and families, be repulsed by the failure of our leaders to address the systemic racism that sanctions the education and funding of hate, bigotry and murder.  Let these words ring because otherwise these murdered souls disappear.  Their voices only exist through our choice to speak their names, tell their stories and lead us to take action.

In my last message, A Letter for Sean and Ahmaud, I explained that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work and education has life or death consequences.  At this moment, I would like to invite you to take action on this work  as a community.  Over the next couple weeks, we will connect you with opportunities across the campus to engage in reflection, dialogue, education and develop an action plan. I encourage you to attend an all campus vigil this Friday at 11:30am, “Ring Their Names: George Floyd, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, the named, and those names and stories unknown”.

Join us: https://tinyurl.com/ringtheirnames

Ring their names,

Mark Kamimura-Jiménez, PhD
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is collaborating with campus partners to provide the following virtual programs. Registration information can be found here.
  1. International Student Dialogue: Understanding the U.S. Context of Current Political Protests in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death on  June 9, 3-4:30pm
  2. A Gathering Space for Action on June 12 (Open to WashU Students)
  3. White Allyship Workshop on June 17, 2-3:30pm (Open to All)
  4. Student Initiated Summer Purpose Project for Racial Justice (Open to WashU Students)
  5. Summer Racial Equity and Justice Workshops (Open to WashU Students)
  6. Summer Education Series on Race, Ethnicity, & Gender (with Vice Provost Adrienne Davis) (Open to WashU Students)
  7. The Racism Pandemic Town Hall Series (Open to all)
    • June 18, 2-3pm – The Racism Pandemic Town Hall: Is It Juneteenth Yet?
    • July 23, 2-3pm – The Racism Pandemic Town Hall: Athletes of Color & Athletics in 2020
    • August 20, 2-3pm – The Racism Pandemic Town Hall: Who is an Essential Worker
    • September 24, 2-3pm – The Racism Pandemic Town Hall: Revisiting the Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American (APIDA) Experience in College
    • Other topics for the academic year will include: Gender Identity, Educational Access, The Silenced Experiences of Women of Color, Mixed Race, etc.
Additional Resources

Anti-Racism Resources:
Resources from Habif Health and Wellness here.
Learn more about diversity and inclusion topics here.

To be informed of CDI happenings, follow us on facebook and instagram and sign up for our newsletter by emailing diversityandinclusion@wustl.edu.