To the College of Dentistry Family:
I wanted to share with you my deepest sadness over the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. I stand with them to speak with clarity about the chilling casualness of George Floyd’s killing, in particular. I stand with them to name it for what it is: the “utter dehumanization of life.”
Many members of our College are suffering acute outrage, pain and sorrow sparked by these recent killings. For some, it runs more deeply than the rest of us can know. As one of my former colleagues shared with me, “as a Black American, these feelings are always there just beneath the surface – scars from past injustices that never heal – and every individual like George Floyd rips off all of the other scabs. Again, and again, and again.”
We must acknowledge that as upsetting as these events are, they cannot be dismissed. We can’t simply pause, shake our heads and move on. I ask each of you to reflect on the injustice that continues to plague our country and to use this time as a call to peaceful action and to make the needed changes in our own community.
We must not allow day-to-day aggressions, hurtful comments and mindless insults to go unchallenged. Allowed to persist unchecked, they become normalized and create an environment that fosters pain, despair and distrust. We can speak up and speak out – in our interactions with friends, classmates and colleagues and through the causes we support and the votes we cast.
We, as the College of Dentistry and members of the Aggie community, must pledge to lead by example. We must hold ourselves accountable for recognizing and addressing implicit biases in our own behavior. We must commit to learning and using best practices in inclusive communication and to using them constructively to change the culture for all.
Our hearts goes out to those in the College of Dentistry’s family who identify as Black and to all those affected by these traumatic and painful events.
I grieve with you.
Dean Lawrence Wolinsky