Letter To Our Community

Publication Date: May 29, 2020

Members of the Wittenberg Community:

There are no words adequate to describe. This month – Ahmaud Arbrey, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed. This week – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. And over time too many others, some whose names we’ve come to know and others we would not recognize, but whose families and communities have shared horrible, unconscionable experiences rooted in being a person of color in the United States, particularly in being a black American.

I am angry, but I cannot imagine the anger, pain, and fear those who are black or brown are feeling now, let alone must live with every day. Four Minneapolis police officers have since been fired. Former officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder. An investigation continues, and there may be more charges for Chauvin and the other former officers in the death of George Floyd. Perhaps there will be justice in this case. But these consequences can never make up for the senseless tragedies that are occurring more frequently, or that because of cell phones with cameras and social media seem to be occurring more frequently or are brought to our awareness in a way that they had not been in decades and centuries past.

Along with the killings, there are experiences like Christian Cooper’s encounter with Amy Cooper in Central Park. And there are images from Michigan’s capitol of armed, mostly white protesters that stand in stark contrast. I do not believe a group of black and brown citizens would have been allowed to disrupt the work of the state government in that way. It was 28 years ago this month that Rodney King, himself the victim of a brutal beating by police, asked, “can we all just get along?” We continue to see that we cannot or will not.

People from Wittenberg are working to create a space for those in our community to gather and to talk about these events and share their thoughts and feelings. Sadly, because of COVID-19, this will happen virtually in order to protect each other from this virus. Look for more about that early next week.

There are still no words, but I hope that together we can find words of support for each other and all those hurting, angry, and appalled by the continued injustices against people and communities of color in this country. No matter how far we have come, in our country and, especially, at Wittenberg, it is not far enough.

Michael L. Frandsen, Ph.D.

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