Dear Members of the Brown Community,
Almost a year ago, a cell phone video of a horrific act of police violence sparked a national and international reckoning with anti-Black racism and anti-Black violence. Today, a court in Minnesota is expected to hear closing arguments in the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for the murder of George Floyd.
The verdict that follows in the days ahead will affect people in many different and acutely personal ways. None of us can predict the jury’s decision, but I do know that members of our community hope fervently and deeply for justice.
In recent days, this country has witnessed the police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a fatal traffic stop, less than a dozen miles from the courthouse where the Derek Chauvin murder trial is taking place. Authorities are still investigating the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago. Whatever the outcome of the Derek Chauvin case, we understand that what transpires in the days and weeks ahead cannot be the end of what has been a national movement to effect real and lasting change.
For the past year, our community has been actively engaged in confronting issues related to structural inequity and systemic racism, and especially anti-Black racism and violence. As we prepare for the days ahead, I’m writing to call on our community to continue this work.
I also want to remind all students, staff and faculty of the resources and support available, and those are listed at the end of this letter. In the day or days following the verdict, we will have a gathering to provide an opportunity to be in community with one another. The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America is also organizing a teach-in, where faculty will reflect on the impact of George Floyd’s death and the broader issues of policing, race and social justice. We will rededicate ourselves to being an educational institution committed to making our society and our world better.
While issues of racism and violence are often talked about only in moments of crisis, our community has been vigorously engaging with these issues with persistence and resolve. As a community of learners and scholars, it has been our responsibility to shine a light directly on issues of race that have too long been marginalized in our society. We have been active and deliberate in pushing ourselves to advance understanding, inform policy and to have sometimes-difficult conversations in new ways.
Dating back to June of last year, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice’s “This is America” series has explored how anti-Black racism is rooted in various forms of structural violence in American social, political and economic systems. The yearlong discussion series “Race &… in America,” presented by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America in partnership with the Office of the Provost, has featured Brown faculty investigating the multifaceted and continued impact of racism throughout society. The School of Public Health and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity also have sponsored extensive programming, among many other academic and administrative departments and centers across campus.
The days ahead may be difficult. There are feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, and also trepidation and fear. There may be people who cheer or protest the jury’s verdict from the Derek Chauvin trial, no matter what it is, and there will no doubt be many who struggle with how those with opposing views express their feelings. It is my hope that our collective identity as a community of learners and scholars will help us interpret and understand the events of the coming days, and to address the change that still needs to happen in our society. I also hope we can continue to listen to each other, demonstrate empathy and respect, and be the caring community that is so critically important in these challenging moments.
I encourage all who live and work at Brown to continue to address issues of inequity, systemic racism and anti-Black violence. I invite you to participate in the programming below, and please note the ongoing COVID-19 safety policies that remain in place. Please use the resources at the end of this message to take care of yourselves and each other.
Christina H. Paxson
EVENTS AND PROGRAMMING
Brown Community Gathering
In the day or days following the Derek Chauvin trial verdict, Date TBD
The Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life will host a gathering that allows all who live and work at Brown an opportunity to be in community with each other in a way that is safe in observing public health protocols (anyone participating in-person in any on-campus event must be in Brown’s COVID-19 testing program).
Race & Anti-Black Racism in America
Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
This is the last panel discussion in a webinar series spanning the 2020-21 academic year drawing on the expertise of Brown scholars to investigate the origins, history and enduring contemporary effects of racism in America from a range of fields and scholarly perspectives. This panel features Assistant Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences Malik Boykin, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Ainsley LeSure, and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies Tricia Rose, moderated by Provost Richard M. Locke.
Racial Reckonings and the Future of the Humanities
Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 3 p.m., to Thursday, April 29, 2021, 7 p.m.
This inaugural conference of the Centering Race Consortium (CRC) examines to what extent, and how might a racial reckoning via new work in arts and humanities be imagined. The two-day conference is a collaboration funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation between CSREA and other academic centers studying race and ethnicity at Stanford, the University of Chicago and Yale.
The Future of Policing in America: A Third Rail Conversation with Connie Rice
Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Moderated by CSREA Director Tricia Rose, this Third Rail dialogue tackles the complex, urgent and difficult subject of racism and policing. Connie Rice is a lawyer, activist and co-founder of the Advancement Project. She has worked extensively to improve and transform policing in Los Angeles and is a former member of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
COVID-19 Safety Policies Regarding Rallies, Demonstrations and Events
- All COVID-19 safety policies, health protocols and guidelines for activities remain in effect, including standards for social distancing, mask wearing, and limiting gathering sizes and in-person events. Please consult the Campus Activity Status page on Healthy.Brown.edu for current safeguards, as well as the COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy.
- Consistent with the travel policies currently in effect, travel outside of Rhode Island to engage in rallies or related activity cannot be endorsed.
- While personal and individual advocacy is actively encouraged, University resources — including websites and social media — cannot be used to make political statements or otherwise engage in partisan activity (in accordance with policies governing political activities for nonprofit organizations).
- Academic decisions regarding cancelling classes can only be made by the academic deans, the provost and/or the faculty (as a body or through the Faculty Executive Committee).
Brown Center for Students of Color
Counseling and Psychological Services
Global Brown Center for International Students
Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender
Student Support Services
Undocumented, First-Generation College, and Low-Income Student Center
Faculty/Staff Assistance Program
Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life