Dean Cathy Lysack on taking action against systemic racism: A letter to the WSU Applebaum community
Dear College Friends,
The terrible events of George Floyd's death, and the recognition of such unremitting inequalities and injustices in our society, including systemic racism, make my heart so heavy. We are living in a time where we have lost our way, and the base tribalism of people's nature has overtaken the kindness and love we humans are supposed to have – and display.
I cannot pretend to know how our Black friends and family are feeling. I can only imagine how painful these days are. I truly hope that this time, after such terrible events by police officers, after so many decades, and so many struggles, this is a moment where we might change. And that change must come from dominant society – White and privileged. Those of us in this group must work harder, so much harder, to tackle this racism and do more for the common good.
I have found it hard to find the right words to say, to even comment on this death and what our College can do. In part, I find it difficult because these racist experiences don't happen to me. I have lived a White life that does not know the suspicion and bias and prejudice and discrimination – and violence – that our Black friends have lived, all based on the color of our skin. Wow, color of skin. Think about that. People hate because of the color of skin. What is the matter with us?
People are more alike than different. We all care for those we love, we all wish better for our children, we all want to see the best in each other, and we all want the world to be better than it is. These are desires ALL human beings share.
My hope is that this moment of history will force us to stop and think and genuinely consider what actions each of us can undertake to make our world – and College – a better place. It doesn't have to be big actions (although it's great if it is!). I welcome your suggestions, and we will continue the conversation.
Despite everything that has happened in the last week, I still believe in the best of people, and I believe our humanity together can make a difference. Collectively, people together working on good things – like justice and racial understanding – make a difference.
Please take some time today to inform yourself and intentionally chose to take systematic racism more seriously than ever have. We must strive for better.
Dean Cathy Lysack
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Wayne State University