June 5, 2020

The tragic deaths of George Floyd,  Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (only three of the many unjust deaths in the BIPOC community) over the last several months have amplified the long history of systemic racism in this country. Please know this message comes from a genuine place of care and concern; also that words alone cannot solve or address the racial injustices in the U.S., rather this work will involve our daily intentions, actions, and behaviors. 

This quote from Kareem Abdul Jabbar rings true, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.” Link for full article: LATimesOpEd

ACEL stands in support and solidarity with our students, staff, and faculty in the black, indigenous, and people of color community (BIPOC). ACEL can and must be part of the solution to ensure that black lives matter and to help create a society free of injustices and racial disparities (manifesting in the areas of education, health, income, poverty, COVID-19, employment, to name a few.). 

It will be critical for all of us in ACEL to use our strengths of education, communication, and leadership to work together in support and solidarity to stop racism, injustice, and violence. Our ACEL committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been making positive change to advance DEI, challenging ACEL to do the difficult work to acknowledge positionality and privilege. ACEL will be working closely with Dr. Patrice Dickerson, our new Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for CFAES, to continue these critical efforts. 

We know more work needs to be done to recognize that personal and systemic prejudice and racism are pervasive realities in our society past and present.  We are committed to find additional strategies and places to shine light on these challenges so everyone in ACEL (faculty, staff and students) and all stakeholders we serve and engage with can learn and grow individually while they contribute to an equitable and inclusive system.  Making sure all members of our society are both seen and heard as we work toward a better future together will remain a key priority for our ACEL family.  We welcome suggestions and engagement as we strive towards inclusion and safety for everyone.

Your voice is important, so please reach out to me directly or any of our faculty and staff to share your concerns and input. It will take all us. Our incoming chair, Dr. Shannon Washburn is fully devoted to this effort and will be an advocate and leader for us as we work together. 

ACEL stands in support and solidarity with our BIPOC students, staff, faculty, and stakeholders.

Thank you,

Dr. Scott Scheer
Interim Chair