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Statement in Support of Our Black Community

June 04, 2020

To: The Caltech Community
From: Cindy A. Weinstein, Chief Diversity Officer, Vice Provost, and Eli and Edythe Broad Professor of English
Date: June 4, 2020
Re: Statement in Support of Our Black Community

Langston Hughes begins his 1951 poem "Harlem" with a question: "What happens to a dream deferred?"

On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery was killed. On March 13th, Breonna Taylor was killed. On May 25th, George Floyd was killed. This is not new. On July 13, 2015, Sandra Bland died in prison in Texas, after being pulled over by police three days before for failing to use her turn signal while changing lanes. On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was killed. On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown was killed. These are only some of the names in a painfully long list that haunts our history. These black lives were violently ended. Black lives matter. What can we, at Caltech, do to show our support for and solidarity with the students, the faculty, the postdocs, and the staff whose suffering, in the wake of these tragedies, is particularly acute?

We can and do acknowledge the harmful effects of racism on our black community.
We can and do acknowledge that there is much work to be done to create the diverse and inclusive environment we all desire.
We can and do acknowledge that diversity and inclusion are essential to the scientific enterprise. 

What have we done?

We have restructured campus security.
We have made diverse hiring – throughout the community – a priority.
We have established an endowment for funding underrepresented minority postdocs.
We have committed to disseminating a campus-wide climate survey and publishing the results.

What else can individuals, lab groups, options, and divisions do?

Utilize the resources of the Center for Inclusion and Diversity, including the unconscious bias trainings that are available and have been used by campus offices, search committees, and labs.
Mentor a student in one of our SFP/CCID programs–WAVE or FSRI–that works to increase diversity on campus.
Participate in our AGEP program that brings underrepresented minority graduate students as postdocs.
Work with the CTLO to learn about inclusive teaching practices and/or to participate in one of our many K-12 outreach programs that focus on underrepresented minorities.
Report incidents of racism to any one of the following offices: the vice provost/chief diversity office; the CCID; and the Equity and Title IX office.

The events of the last several months and the last few days have left many of us reeling. We are here to support each other and to do everything we can to ensure that dreams are not deferred.