This has been a devastating couple of months for our city, our country, and our world. We are mourning more than 100,000 lives that have been lost to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, and we are mourning the untimely deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many more Black people across this country who have been victims of racial violence and hate.
It is important to pause and acknowledge the grief and outrage that so many are experiencing following the horrific events that are happening in our nation. We at Swedish Institute remain committed to ensuring that this campus stands against all forms of hatred, including racially motivated attacks. We believe deeply that equity and respect are central to the character of our institution, to the health of our democracy and to the well-being of our world. This commitment is of vital importance to your campus leaders, and we recognize our responsibility to be the change we seek to create in the world.
On Friday June 5, 2020, many members of the Swedish Institute faculty and staff participated in a Town Hall meeting. While it was a first for our college, it was an important action taken by our team to create safe space for us to connect and provide support to one another during the tumultuous times we are now experiencing. Although participation was not required, over 60 people attended and listened while stories were shared about our experiences with racism and police brutality. Support and encouragement was shared in special sentiments and the management team reaffirmed their commitment to incorporate diversity and inclusion training and awareness to our students, staff and faculty.
To say the event was enlightening is an understatement. After three months of quarantine due to COVID-19, those two hours helped us reconnect and reaffirm our connection and support for our colleagues. The experience was powerful, and quite exemplary of Swedish Institute’s rich history as a vibrant and diverse center of learning dedicated to providing practical training and guidance to our students to help them succeed both in and outside of the classroom.
In times like these, it’s important to find solace in being a part of a supportive community. Conversations about race and inequality are some of the hardest to navigate and most of the time, we avoid them for fear of the introspection they bring which requires us to examine our own values and belief systems. However, these challenging moments make us grow. We look back over our lives and examine our experiences to gain a better understanding of how they have shaped our choices and designed our very existence. There is also a moment of humanity for each of us, in which we consider our work and how we contribute to the well being of others in our community and in our world.
We ask every member of the Swedish Institute community to stand in solidarity in rejecting racism and violence and to commit to building a better future where opportunity is real and just. The racism and violence that plague our society must stop, and the healing must begin.
The dialogue needs to continue, and it will.
With love and solidarity,