Acknowledging the trauma of disproportionate violence in African American communities

The following message was sent to SUNY New Paltz students, faculty and staff on Friday, May 29.

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Amid the staggering loss of life from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are compelled to acknowledge, on behalf of the SUNY New Paltz community, the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and George Floyd in Minnesota. Sadly, we recognize that communities of color, especially African Americans, have long suffered violence at disproportionate rates, just as the pandemic has had disparate effects on these Americans. Communities of color, particularly black and brown men, face experiences of vigilante justice and state violence fueled by racism and white supremacy.

As a campus, we acknowledge the pain and trauma that these experiences bring, especially to African American members of our community, and we hope that you are caring for yourselves at this difficult time. Our community draws strength to face these larger societal challenges by leaning on our mission of education and our values of inclusion when we gather in solidarity through peaceful vigils and protests, dialogue, and educational programming. We hope that all members of our community try to learn more about bias and the impacts of racism in our country so that we can dismantle racism and the hierarchy of human life and stand as allies.

We regret that the pandemic does not allow us to gather in person as a community to connect, support and educate each other. SUNY New Paltz stands with and offers condolences to the Taylor, Arbery and Floyd families and the individuals and communities impacted by their deaths.

Donald P. Christian, President

Tanhena Pacheco Dunn, Associate VP for Human Resources Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer