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A Message from Dr. Rivera

Dear Members of the Macalester Community,

I write on this first day of my Presidency to acknowledge the outrage, despair, and grief we all are feeling over the murder of Mr. George Floyd. I also acknowledge the pain caused by persistent and sinister injustices in our society, as well as the havoc wreaked in the Twin Cities and across the country. 

Many people are expressing their righteous anger about systemic racism and other tools of oppression that divide our nation. I am proud to say that over the last week the Macalester community has stood firmly on the side of justice, fairness, and equality. Many Macalester students, staff, faculty, and alumni have been among those demonstrating in the streets– both in the Twin Cities and in their hometowns– to demand that this country live up to the ideals it espouses: liberty and justice for all.

To be very clear, racism is not merely cruel and unfair, it is a public health emergency. Just as the COVID-19 virus has disproportionately affected communities of color, so too is the burden of grief about police brutality disproportionately falling on Macalester’s communities of color. We must recognize that fixing this problem requires that we all work together to dismantle the systems that confer unearned privileges on some while unfairly harming others.

As I spent the last five days driving from Cleveland to Saint Paul, watching the heartbreaking news unfold from television sets in various hotel rooms, a quote by Dr. Angela Y. Davis has served as a mantra: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

Macalester family, now is not the time for hopelessness. It is a time for action. 

The college sits at the center of our nation’s broken heart today. We must stand up and do something to repair it. We must fix the unjust systems that permitted the brutal killing of yet another unarmed civilian of color by a police officer. We must resist white supremacy and use every tool at our disposal to make the changes in our society that are necessary to eliminate anti-Black racism and other forms of bigotry. 

A priority for my Presidency will be to ensure the college lives up to its own ideals with regard to diversity, inclusion, and the ability for each member of the community to feel safe, to be welcome, and to thrive. So, too, must we work together with our fellow citizens of the Twin Cities to affirm the rights and uplift the welfare of local communities, especially those who are disenfranchised.

Yes, I am brokenhearted. I am angry. But I also am inspired by Macalester’s values, and I am resolute in my belief they will motivate all of us to do what we can to create a more just and peaceful world. Despite all the challenges that lie ahead of us, I take comfort in the Macalester Peace Prayer. I hope it will sustain each of you as we work to build a better tomorrow.

Dr. Suzanne M. Rivera

Macalester College Peace Prayer

As we continue our journey at Macalester, may we be nourished by our years of friendship and learning. And may we draw upon them to create a more just and peaceful world, a world filled with fellowship and kinship, with respect and kindness for one another and with the hope for a better tomorrow.

June 1, 2020