To the Lafayette Community:
At a time when all of us have experienced a sense of fear and disempowerment as a result of COVID-19, it is important to remind ourselves that some members of our community have an enormous additional burden to bear.
The death of Ahmaud Arbery, the death of Breonna Taylor, and the death of George Floyd in an incident that has led to a police officer being charged with murder: these losses are tragic reminders of the risks that come with being black in America.
To compound the impact of these events, they take place against the backdrop of a national tragedy in which more than 100,000 people have died, with studies showing disproportionate losses in nonwhite, particularly African-American, communities. As analyses are already beginning to reveal, inequality and structural racism have had profound public health consequences in this crisis.
The anxiety and anger felt by many of us at this time are especially difficult to process when we do not have the opportunity to gather as a community. Were the College in session, we could organize discussions and gatherings that would provide opportunities for sharing, support, and activism.
Over the last few months, we have all learned to work hard at maintaining our sense of connection over long distances. I hope that even though we are far apart, we can look for opportunities to show support now and pledge action in the future. It is not enough simply to bear witness to racism and acknowledge that it exists. As an educational institution, Lafayette College has a role to play in revealing and countering its effects. That is a task that I promise you we will take up when we meet again.
President Alison Byerly