Mia Tuan, dean of the University of Washington College of Education, issued the following statement regarding the College's commitment to dismantling structural racism in the wake of multiple incidents in which Black people have been killed by police.
Dear CoE Community,
"Third Night of Protests Underway in Downtown Seattle"
"Pain And Anger Across America"
"Minnesota To Deploy Record Guard Force To Contain Unrest Over Death Of George Floyd"
These are some of the headlines that dominated news outlets this weekend. They speak to inconsolable pain, grief and rage felt across the country in response to the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the latest in a long succession of violent atrocities committed against Black people in this country. I am under no illusion that these past few weeks are an aberration from what happens every day and every way to Black people and people of color more generally, but the senselessness of their deaths combined with fatigue/stress/worry over COVID-19 have left me raw and struggling to find my center.
Words are utterly inadequate right now but, as your Dean, it is my responsibility to try.
For our Black students, staff, faculty and community partners, I am so sorry for the suffering, anguish and pain you are experiencing right now. Your college community stands with you and bears witness to the fury unleashed over centuries of violence against the Black community. Racial oppression is real, insidious and deeply ingrained into the fabric of our society. We all bear responsibility for it and each and every one of us must take a stand to say NO MORE.
As for our College, our work has never been more important than right now. Disrupting and dismantling deep structural racism MUST lie at the heart of our collective work. Our College has a long tradition of coursework and research that is in service of educational justice and equity, for example, decentering whiteness in teacher education. And when the headlines turn to other issues, the work of social transformation and the work of the College will endure. Toward that end, there are many proactive actions we can and will enact together with our community, including:
- Acknowledge the problematic histories and practices of educational institutions in perpetuating racialized trauma and harm and in ignoring these issues in arrogant and self-serving ways.
- Firmly commit to a vision and promise of education that supports the thriving of communities, families, and individuals impacted by the ongoing legacies of racism.
- Bring our collective resources and expert research to bear in fostering the cultivation of critical consciousness and developing approaches that disrupt oppression and proactively generate more just futures.
The work of education is central to the elimination of racism in society. It's not easy work, but it is the right work and it is OUR WORK. Individuals are not born racist — people can work to unlearn it. Anti-racist education can disrupt entrenched biases and problematic practices and policies tied to race. Cultures can shift their values and practices to support collective liberation and self-determination for communities experiencing oppression. Education can help craft new solidarities between minoritized communities and with the broader society. I believe in these possibilities with my heart and soul and, after the grief and haziness lift, I will double-down in all the ways I can, to make them a reality. I know you will as well.
PS. Additional mental health and counseling resources are available from the UW's Husky Health & Well Being site, Counseling Center and Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center.
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications