Dear Brockport Community:
Earlier this month, the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group declared racism to be a public health crisis. The group laid out a powerful case for how racism and public health are intertwined and called on a wide range of entities in Monroe County, including educational institutions, to join in supporting its effort. SUNY Brockport has endorsed this declaration.
We believe strongly that all members of the community should be treated fairly and equitably. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are core values of our institution—and it’s clear that public health in this country and in our community is far from equitable. Racial disparities have long existed and continue to grow. COVID-19, the toll of which has surpassed 100,000 deaths nationally, has further demonstrated how structural racism has damaged our public health. The success of students, faculty, and staff of color requires us to address these issues head on.
We are confronted daily with national headlines that illustrate the ways in which racism continues to haunt the Black community. Most recently, we learned of the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, who was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a police officer. There was Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old aspiring nurse who was killed by Louisville police in her own apartment while she slept. And there was Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was killed while out for a jog in his neighborhood. These incidents, and many more like it, highlight brutality and lack of humanity toward members of the Black community.
The Black Agenda Group’s declaration calls for urgent action. We stand firm in supporting this anti-racist agenda calling to make racism a public health crisis. As an institution of higher education, we have a responsibility to heed that call. SUNY Brockport is committed to anti-racist work both on and off campus.
We are currently in the process of finalizing the SUNY Brockport Community Advisory Board (CAB), which is just one of the ways that we are seeking to make change locally. The CAB is made up of individuals from across both our campus and the Greater Rochester area. Its charge is “To develop and enhance relationships between SUNY Brockport and the Greater Rochester community through actively addressing issues of common concern, including, but not limited to, equity, diversity and inclusion; communication; community involvement; academic outreach, and economic development.” We will be meeting next month for the first time, and I will be asking this group to provide input on how our institution can contribute to addressing structural racism, ensuring that every member of our College community can be successful, and ultimately impacting the communities in which they live, work, and study.
The Rochester Black Agenda Group is committed to uplifting and improving the lives of Black/African American individuals in Greater Rochester. SUNY Brockport is proud to join its efforts.