Dear Wellesley community,
Like so many of you, I have been deeply angered by the killing of George Floyd. The video of his death was horrifying to watch, its impact only amplified by the appalling, repeated police brutality directed against black Americans. The tragedy of this moment goes beyond the senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. It goes to the deep stain of racism that endures in the United States.
Racism is behind the killings of black people by police, just as it is behind the disproportionate loss of life in communities of color from COVID-19. Each is a different symptom of the same devastating scourge of racial injustice and inequality.
As an institution committed to educating students to make a difference in the world, our first responsibility is to name the problems we see and interrogate their root causes. We must find ways to stand up to the racism we see fully on display in our society and face it down. Among many actions, we can march, we can peacefully protest, we can use our voice, and we can vote.
As we prepare to celebrate the graduation of our seniors, with students of all races and ethnicities joining together as a virtual community ready to make its mark on the world, I take hope. I see the seeds of a new kind of moral leadership, with this generation of young people in the vanguard, unafraid to call out and stand up to the challenges we face. Together, and with fierce and determined spirits and an abiding hunger for justice, we will find ways to overcome the tragedy of this moment, and seize our opportunity to recreate the world.
Paula A. Johnson