March Check In

How is one to start a Friday email the day after the terrible shootings in New Zealand? Well, I guess by acknowledging the shootings, but affirming our shared anger and angst caused by the killings. But we should also look clearly at the ways these shootings are of a piece with the (often white) nationalism that seems rampant across the globe. I add my words to Tony’s in support and solidarity.

Maybe it is a good time to remind ourselves of the resources we have. We have, of course, each other. Our families and friends and colleagues. And the professional help available to us through programs like the Employee Assistant Program and Tell Someone and the bias related incident referral form.

I am reflecting as well on the news this week of the ways power and privilege sustain themselves in college admissions. Again, my alma mater—University of Southern California—is one of the institutions embroiled in the successful efforts by wealthy families to illegally assure their children spots in elite universities. Combined with the legal efforts to assure the cloistered experiences of the wealthy and we are reminded again of the lie of meritocracy.

To put these two incidents side by side seems may seem a non sequitur. But I suspect they are, on a structural level, deeply related.

It is in this context that I am so deeply proud of much of the work we do here in the department. The efforts of the CPD to reach a bigger and more diverse part of our community is a small effort against these hatreds and privileges. Our upcoming ACT festival tells stories of hope and heartache in the efforts to secure human rights for all not just a select few. Our renewed efforts in our undergraduate program to create a department well all our students can thrive also directly addresses these inequalities.

It seems to me that these efforts of ours are never more needed than they are right now. In this place and time.

And so, as we head toward spring break, take a pause and a breath. Renew yourselves for the next weeks of work. Remember that in refreshing ourselves, in renewing our relationships, we are maintaining and creating the foundation that allows us to do the good work we need to do.

Have a good break. And I will see you on other side.