To the members of the Macalester community,

I wish I could offer words of encouragement in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. I wish I could tell you that something good will come out of this latest act of violence and racism and that it will, in the end, lead us to become a more just society.

I wish, even, that I could call this the last straw. But we have had too many last straws.

The only appropriate feelings in the immediate aftermath of this murder are, I believe, grief and anger. The only appropriate action, however futile it might feel in the moment, is once again to demand change: change not only in the Minneapolis Police Department, whose history of racist actions is long and well-documented, but in a metropolitan area and a state whose racial inequities are among the starkest in a nation marked everywhere by such inequities.

I have been involved in countless discussions among community leaders, mostly white, about the race-based gaps in Minnesota in education, health care, income, unemployment, and just about every other aspect of life. People express concern. People wonder about the causes and the cures. People rarely use the one phrase that is truly explanatory: a long history of systemic and pervasive racism in a state that likes to think of itself as progressive. That reality needs to be named before it can be addressed.

I grieve for all of us, but especially for the people of color in our community who cannot feel safe driving a car or going to a store or jogging on a street. They cannot send their children from their homes without a constant and gnawing fear.

This undermines whatever claims our society has to being just and inclusive.

Macalester, as we regularly acknowledge, is not perfect, but the values for which we stand, the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion for which we strive, must be embraced now more than ever. I want our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents of color to feel safe. I want them to feel heard. I want them to feel loved.

Please know that I so want to embrace you all. Please know that though I am leaving Macalester in a matter of days, I am not leaving this fight, and that I will devote whatever energies and abilities I have to making our broken society more just.

– Brian

Brian Rosenberg
President, Macalester College

(May 28, 2020)

May 28 2020

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