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June 4, 2020

President Neuhold-Ravikumar

Far from a formal statement, I’ve taken time to speak with several of our black Broncho family members over the past few days and felt compelled to share what I’ve heard and learned with you.

First, let me say that I am a white woman with privilege. I say that out loud to make it clear to you that I understand my place and role in the energy and rage that is coursing through our country. I also state that to share with you that I am heartbroken over the feelings and experiences that our fellow Bronchos have lived throughout their lives as a result of an uncontrollable genetic trait: skin color. Is it by luck that the trait of blue eyes was not deemed unworthy or less than? It could have been that blue eyes would have prevented me from getting a home loan, a job, a fair trial or the guarantee of police safety. I have never worried about whether my hoodie was covering my face or the way I held my dinner knife in a restaurant.

This past week, I have been exceptionally aware of myself when speaking to my black friends and colleagues. I want them to feel my respect and love and I believe they do. Maybe you’ve felt this way as well. I was reminded by one of our community members how simple and yet how meaningful it is to simply ask someone how they are doing. The power of openly acknowledging that you are aware of the struggle and demonstrating genuine concern can cut through the deepest pain and loneliness a person may be feeling right now.

Maybe you have been at a loss for words this week and possibly feel like it’s too awkward to reach out after so many horrible incidents and so many days of protests. I want to reassure you that it’s never too late to step into your awareness. Compassion is colorblind, and any person truly interested in healing our society will welcome your outreach.

I have found that following a funeral a grieving home is filled with expressed sympathies, cards and casseroles. People feel compelled to feed and nurture others through sustenance. This is always a welcome and thoughtful gesture that provides relief for the ones needing time to grieve. What follows in the days and weeks to come is often a diminished response – the casseroles stop coming. For those of us who have lost a loved one, we know the pain doesn’t stop when the casseroles stop coming. The days and nights are lonely for years to come. Just like the nurturing offered families after a death, our friends and colleagues need your compassion in this moment. Our responses to these most recent atrocities, however, must be sustained into the months and years ahead to be impactful and meaningful to those among us who are rightfully impatient, hurt and angry.

Acknowledgement is the first step toward action. I will be asking the institution to take organized action in the near future. Today, I ask you to take some time to ask, listen and offer emotional support to our black Broncho family members.

Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar