A Message from the Council for Equity and Community
“I can’t breathe.” George Floyd died with a white police officer’s knee pressing on his neck, becoming one of a too-long list of Black men, women and children killed by racism, both systemic and specific. Some of their names - Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor - are publicly known; untold others are mourned in private. These events are in the news, but they are not new.
To Lehigh’s Black community, who are hurt, angry, scared, fed up - the Council for Equity and Community stands with you. We hear you. You matter. Black Lives Matter.
We condemn systemic racism, and the egregious racist incidents against Black individuals and communities. In our role as an advisory body to Lehigh’s Vice President for Equity and Community, we take our charge seriously: to listen, to be a conduit for turning what Lehigh’s marginalized and underrepresented communities are asking, saying and experiencing into action and structural change.
“We” our body and our individual members are personally committed to diversity, equity and inclusion - yet we acknowledge also our collective failures to provide our Black community with all they need. We stand in solidarity with you now to listen, learn, educate and transform.
All are invited to a virtual forum in early July co-sponsored by the CEC with Lehigh’s Office of Multicultural Affairs for a frank conversation on these issues. We invite participation from Lehigh students, staff and faculty. Please stay tuned for details.
Issues we are paying attention to include transparency in policing, implicit bias training and awareness, and retention and support for students, faculty and staff of color. We support and are eager to engage with the work of Lehigh’s new task force charged with comprehensively reviewing university policies and procedures to ensure they are anti-racist.
We welcome additional ideas and resources to continue these efforts. Here are a few:
- Lehigh Libraries Anti-Racism Resources
- Lehigh Black Student Union: “How to Ally”
- Student Senate BLM Virtual Town Hall - June 4
- Ibram X. Kendi: “How to Be an Anti-Racist”
We want to hear from you; contact us at: Cec@lehigh.edu.
This will be an ongoing conversation. Lehigh is not immune to the racism that permeates our society: Black students, faculty and staff experience microaggressions and racist incidents and feel unsupported and misrepresented. While institutions of higher education often see themselves as champions for change, they are part of the problem when they inadequately address these issues and needs. Lehigh has made committed efforts - but it’s not enough. We are called not just to respond, to improve, to better - but to lead, to solve. Please join us.
Lehigh University Council for Equity and Community (CEC)
About the CEC:
The Council for Equity and Community (CEC) is an independent advisory board composed of Lehigh staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students committed to serving as a campus resource in the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion. We encourage constructive dialogue and work toward building a stronger campus community for all.
Mary Ellen Kitchen