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Confronting Anti-Black Violence

Jun 3 2020

Dear Haas Center community,

We are writing to share our grief and outrage regarding the recent police murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and Steven Taylor, the vigilante murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and the hate crime murder of Nina Pop and other Black people who were victims of anti-Blackness. We know that many of you have been impacted by these events, and we grieve with you.  

The Haas Center for Public Service stands with you in our collective struggle for racial justice and an end to the interlocking systems of white supremacy and state violence that continue to impact us all, while targeting Black communities in particular. 

Silence on this matter implicitly condones “business as usual” and business cannot continue as usual when Black communities, members of our own community, are simultaneously disproportionately targeted by the impacts of both police brutality and COVID-19. These impacts share the same roots in the history of racist policies against Black people, which has resulted in ongoing violence against Black people  in so many forms. 

As Paulo Freire, whose work has long guided public service and service-learning, wrote, "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." We recognize that violence is a pre-existing condition in our society, as the very founding of our country was rooted in anti-Blackness. Thus, we believe it is necessary to speak out against the violence - both physical and institutional - that continues to be perpetrated against Black communities on a daily basis.

The Haas Center for Public Service is here to support you. We encourage you to take action through this list of resources and participate in this grassroots "teach in.” We would also like to lift up the work the Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership have done and continue to do to support us in navigating the challenges associated with this moment. Additionally, we encourage you to support each other by reaching out to those most impacted and taking care of yourselves and those around you.

As we strive toward our mission of inspiring Stanford University to realize a more just and sustainable world, we acknowledge, with humility, ways we have fallen short or remained silent in the face of injustice. Over the last year, we have developed a diversity, equity, and inclusion philosophy and vision statement that articulates our commitment to  deepening our own learning and taking action to address systemic racism and the many ways that oppressive systems impact people of color and other marginalized communities. We also recognize the difference between efforts that tend to immediate needs and efforts that address the underlying conditions that reproduce those needs. While both are important, ultimately only the latter will help us achieve justice.

We take this moment to again reflect on the depth of anti-Blackness and racial injustices that continue to plague our society. The creation of a just and sustainable society depends upon justice, liberation, and self-determination for Black people, and we are committed to this struggle with you. 

Sincerely,

Deborah Stipek, Tom Schnaubelt, and the Haas Center staff