A call to end the violence against Black people, from Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange
This message was distributed to Seattle Central College staff on May 29, 2020
Dear Seattle Central Community,
As I write this message to our campus community, multiple riots are happening in the aftermath of the May 27 death of George Floyd while pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer. A march is planned in Seattle on Saturday and I plan to be there in solidarity with others who are fed up with the disdain for Black lives and the continuing acceptance of police violence against Black men, women, children, transgender folks, and whole communities.
I hope you agree that as a community we must not let this current rendering of violence against Black people go unnoticed. We cannot be silent while this injustice goes on. It is of great concern to all of us and to me as your president.
As a Black woman, I have lived through and experienced the trauma of the 1997 murder of James Byrd Jr. by white supremacists, who dragged his body behind their truck in Jasper Texas; the 1992 acquittal verdict of police officers in the Rodney King trial; the continuous killing of Black youth and men by police in the 2000s; and the most recent shooting by civilians of a Black male youth in Georgia who was out for a jog.
I am roiling in a cauldron of emotions that threatens my mental health and wellbeing. I am also acutely aware of the impact this constant trauma has on Black people’s mental health and wellbeing, on our campus and across the country. While many may concede that this roiling anger is understandable, many want to discount my anger and all Black people’s anger. But anger has a lot of information in it. It can give us insight and deep scrutiny of our values. It can help us forge creative tools to act in accordance with those values. It can shine the light of irrefutable truth that Black lives do matter, that the violence must end, and that we are the ones who have to make it end.
As a college, each and every one of us can be part of the effort to end violence against Black people. What we teach in our classroom, how we support those who protect us and advocate the end of violence, and the speakers we sponsor to raise awareness are all actions that will guide us through well charted but no less threatening waters.
Seattle Central’s history as a community college is centered in activism and is a driver of real changes to racial inequality and violence in our communities. Our college mission compels us to do more to help this country to live up to its ideals of justice and equality for all. We - you and I - have to do more to live up to our own moral values and to ensure that Seattle Central’s moral compass points to and directs us to act against social injustice.
I am prepared to do more. I ask you to join me and be part of the solution to stop this persistent and prevalent violence against Black people.
Sheila Edwards Lange, PhD
President, Seattle Central College
Resources and information for action: