Dear Campus Community,
Since the posting of an offensive video the week before last, I have had many conversations with members of our black community about the pain it caused. These conversations have made me realize, even more acutely than I had, of how much work we have to do as a campus. One of the reasons the video was so hurtful is because it reinforced the anti-blackness that is part of our national culture and sometimes infects our campus culture as well. It is sobering to realize, 400 years after the introduction of slavery into North America, how deep, harmful, and pervasive its effects still are.
I have therefore decided to take steps to help our community understand anti-blackness, the nature of the emotional and mental harm it causes, and the need to be vigilant in working toward inclusivity. We will incorporate additional instruction in our various orientation programs to create greater understanding of these issues.
We must have much more conversation as a community of what we all have to do to assure that we all feel we belong here. Particularly at a time when social media makes it cheap and easy to caricature others and to reach a wide audience with false and demeaning words, we need to better understand the power of our language to diminish, harm, and exclude. We need to learn to better use our words and actions to communicate and unite across boundaries of race, gender, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation. I will be working with student leadership to develop a set of programs this spring that will give us the opportunity to discuss and reflect upon our responsibilities as a community and to our community.
Achieving an inclusive and equitable campus is something we need to continually reaffirm and continually build toward. I remain committed to this goal, and look forward to working together in partnership to help Berkeley become the place we wish it to be.