Similar to many of you, the events of this recent week have left me angry and frustrated, not only for me and my family, but for our coaches, staff, student-athletes, and MIT community members of color who are impacted by both covert and overt acts of racism and discrimination in our society. The unjust killings of Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd serve as brutal reminders of the systemic racism that African-American and other people of color have endured in this country for centuries. While there has been some progress with race-relations over the years, the recent events over the last week show us that we still have a great deal of work to do in order to create a culture of equity and inclusion for all people. As a country, we are truly at a crossroads. Individually, we need to ask our ourselves whether we will commit to being change agents for a better society, or are we going to sit back and allow racism and injustice to erode our communities. There is no middle ground. Now more than ever, we must speak up, we must stand for diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect for others and denounce hatred and racism. To quote Mahatma Gandhi – We must be the change that we wish to see in this world.
As expressed in our Inclusion Statement, the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) supports a diverse and inclusive culture that provides opportunities for all students, staff, faculty, and community members regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, class, creed, disability, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation. Our diverse and inclusive culture supports a respectful learning environment and is a shared and ongoing responsibility in the pursuit of excellence. Moving forward, we will re-commit ourselves to this inclusion statement and truly reflect on and critically assess the manner in which are building a culture that upholds our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity within our department.
For many of us, engaging in conversations about racial injustice is difficult. However, in order to really see progress, we need to be able to have these uncomfortable conversations with each other. Several of us have questions about next steps and what we can do moving forward. While there is no one-size fits all answer to process what is happening within our society right now, we can start by acknowledging the injustice, listening to one another and respecting/embracing our differences, displaying empathy to others, engaging in open and honest dialogue, and last but certainly not least - voting. While I continue to personally process the emotions associated with these egregious events, I am here to listen and provide support to those who are having difficulty during this time.
Please be reminded that we must work together for change as OneTeam and OneMIT!
G. Anthony Grant, Ph.D.
Director of Athletics/DAPER Department Head
Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology