Stephanie Sanders, DEI officer and lecturer, shares a statement on solidarity

June 9, 2020

Stephanie Sanders, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and a lecturer at the Ford School, sent the following letter to the Ford School community last night, Tuesday, June 9.

Dear Ford School Community,

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Atatiana Jefferson. Botham Jean. Philando Castile. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Tanisha Anderson. Bettie Jones. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Laquan McDonald. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin.

This growing list of names is painfully long. These Black lives mattered to their families, friends, and communities. Black Lives Matter.

As protests continue to swell across the nation, I stand in solidarity with those who call for justice for lives in Black communities killed at the hands of police.

As a nation reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, these instances expose systems, structures, and policies that have not adequately addressed systemic racism. The coronavirus laid bare racial health disparities and economic and social inequities – all legacies the run deep in our national psyche. And while we are largely attentive to the most overt displays of racism and discrimination, dismantling systemic racism requires addressing it in all its forms. This includes subtle, everyday forms of racism and discrimination that arguably remain unnoticed.

Like many of you, I have been struggling the past two weeks. I am a daughter, sister, and aunt so these experiences are extremely personal and at times debilitating. As public policy students, faculty, and staff I know you are struggling, too. I have reached out to members of our community and there is a sense of deep personal loss and grief as a result of these events and what they represent. There are no words I can write to ease anyone's suffering. This is especially true for those in our community who feel these losses most keenly. This message, however, is an opportunity to speak collectively to the Ford School community. I acknowledge the anger, pain, fear, exhaustion, and frustration and stand with you during this difficult time. I am here with you and I am thinking of everyone in our community - those who have a shared experience and those who stand as allies.

I see you. I hear you. I am with you.

Dean Barr and the Ford School leadership are engaged in conversations and outreach as well. We are thankful to everyone who shared thoughts and recommendations and are ready to build a stronger Ford School community. The core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to the success of the Ford School and will guide us in the work ahead. Although we have made gains in these areas, we have more work to do. This work is ongoing and the path forward, no doubt, will be difficult. We are committed to do the work necessary to actualize these values.

For starters, we reaffirm our commitment to address these challenges and strengthen our resolve to action. Next, the Ford School leadership is engaged in ongoing conversations to identify the best path forward. There are no easy answers. This requires committed leadership, transparency, full community input that includes all voices and ideas, patience, kindness, and grace to accomplish the work ahead. Finally, we are fully aware that members of our community will approach this work differently and require different levels of support in the months ahead. To that end, below is a list of resources and opportunities, although certainly not comprehensive, to increase awareness and deepen our understanding around anti-racism, activism, and allyship.

Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." The recent protest, activism, die-ins, call-outs, and organizing are cautionary reminders that the arc does not bend by itself.

So stay tuned regarding opportunities to be engaged.

In solidarity,

Stephanie Sanders, Ph.D.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer/Lecturer III

Understanding Racism and Anti-Racism Work

Mental Health and Wellbeing