Dallas Police Chief David Brown, an African American whose own family and friends have been ravaged by violent death, spoke for a nation and to a nation when he said, “All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”
America still has far to go in confronting and ending the implications of its history of racial divide, and the challenges have been escalated by the economic stagnation of the middle class, by the increasing availability of guns, and by the astonishingly low level to which rhetoric in the Presidential campaign has sunk–a rhetoric designed to bring out the worst rather than the best in Americans. There are bad actors in every group, but they do not characterize the group–whether the police or the members of a minority group–which is made up of hundreds of thousands or millions of individual Americans who share the challenges common to all of us–seeking love, supporting and raising a family, working effectively, and living a meaningful life.
While we at Pace cannot solve the nation’s problems, we can meet our own challenges. Like the rest of America, about half of our student body is made up of minorities. In that sense we are a microcosm of the nation. Our community shares a deeply-rooted belief that Opportunitas is all about giving every student the preparation to be the best that he or she can be, and that an essential element of achieving that goal is to take advantage of our diversity and to work together in teams in which each student learns from the different perspectives, life experiences, and culture of the others. The more clearly we learn to see the world through the eyes of those with different backgrounds, the more we see them as individuals and not as undifferentiated members of a group. If we cannot succeed in that effort, how can our nation? If we can succeed, why cannot our nation?
At the same time that we grieve for those who have died or been wounded, we need to continue to deepen our conversations with each other and to deepen our understanding of those of different races, cultures, and backgrounds. To do otherwise is to remain ignorant. As a university, our role is to abolish ignorance.
So please reach out to others; if you think Town Hall or other meetings would be helpful, talk to Student Affairs; take advantage of Counseling Services to talk through your reactions in a more private way; and let me have any other suggestions by e-mail or through your comments.