I want to begin by acknowledging that whatever words I write here are insufficient to the current moment. This insufficiency is due to the fact that what we are (and always have been) witnessing in our country—the systemic and systematic killing of black people—is simply too evil to capture in language. It is, like all genocides, unspeakable.
And yet, as a non-black person of color, and as the director of programs designed to promote justice, not speaking feels similarly evil.
So with that said, and with all that remains unsaid, I hope that you all know that we in PAI stand with black communities. We know that many of you are tired, angry, and sad. As always, we stand ready to support you, if you need someone to listen to you, to affirm you, or to simply hold space for wellness, leisure, and care. And as always, we are here to help connect you with resources, whether they be emotional, material, or spiritual.
It is important to note that I also write this in the context of a global pandemic—a spring that has, for so many in our community, been unfathomably difficult. Our community is, of course, built for just these times—times that require interdependence and collective care. But I also want each of you, especially our black students, faculty, and friends, to know that we recognize the costs of that collective care. Many of you work with us in the PAI office and all of you labor in some way for our community, through mentorship, advocacy, and outreach. Please know that we absolutely respect and understand if you need to take breaks from this work—if you need to focus on yourself, your activism, your loved ones, or something else for a while.
In the meantime, I promise that I will work hard to ensure that these programs and this community continue strong. And more than that, I promise that our office will seek out new ways to center conversations about white supremacy and the resulting destruction of black lives, black dreams, and black opportunity. We will seek out new ways to fight for equity and access. And we will try to generate more light in this world. For as Elie Weisel noted in his Nobel Prize Address, we know that “our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all of those who need us desperately.”
Sending you all peace and strength,
Dean Khristina Gonzalez