Standing Together Against Anti-Black Racism and Hate
Dear Western Community,
As you undoubtedly know, this weekend in a neighborhood supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., an 18-year-old gunman shot 13 people, killing 10 of them. Eleven of his victims were Black. The gunman responsible for this latest mass shooting in America spent months meticulously planning his attack and posted a racist manifesto online, the content of which makes clear that white supremacist ideology was his motivation for the murders.
Acts of racial terrorism like these are intended, like all terrorism, to create chaos, to make everyday life unbearable for a whole community of people. Members of our community are struggling with trauma and grief, in the wake of repeated blows to their safety and wellbeing. We have to come together in support and care of one another, recognizing the heavy toll racism exacts every day.
In the wake of this latest carnage, I would like to say to our Black students, faculty, and staff: you are valued members of the Western community. You belong here. You are wanted here. We will continue to work hard to keep you safe, and to create and sustain an environment for your success.
Like you, I can only mourn for the Buffalo community from a distance. But what every member of our community can—and in fact, must—do is to take action to make Western a just, caring, and compassionate place for all. As a university dedicated to addressing the world’s most challenging problems, we have a special responsibility to combat hate every day, in everything we do.
Please be compassionate and supportive of one another as we all process this horrific incident. If you are grieving or traumatized, please know that you are not struggling alone. Students needing mental health resources may contact the Counseling and Wellness Center at cwc.wwu.edu/. Staff and faculty may reach out to the Employee Assistance Program at hr.wwu.edu/employee-assistance-program. For those looking for supportive spaces, the Counseling and Wellness Center will be hosting a Community Care Space in the Multicultural Center at 4:00 pm tomorrow and Friday.
Acts of racism, hatred and violence have no place in our society. As we process the grief of this moment, please join me in strengthening our commitment to shaping a culture at Western, and the broader communities we inhabit, that is caring, compassionate, and values the fundamental humanity of all its members.