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Statement: ‘This is a call for genuine systemic change’

Dear Clark community,

It has been absolutely heartbreaking and appalling to see the continued injustice experienced within the black community and other communities of color. This is not just about the disturbing events on our own doorsteps last night. This is not just about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and the list goes on. This is about the systemic forms of injustice, oppression, racism, and violence that run rampant in our country and in our neighborhoods.

It is frustrating that we find ourselves here over and over again. It is deeply troubling to see the acts that unfolded at the hands of our local police department toward those in our community that exercised their constitutional right to peacefully protest the acts of police brutality and racism. There are many faculty and staff that stand in solidarity with those that exercised their rights. We support the statements President Angel and President-elect Fithian have made condemning these injustices and calling for Clark to play its part in leading toward a more just and equitable society and fighting the causes of fear which haunt people of color in this country.

In the words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.

— “Other America” speech, 1967, Stanford University

So I ask the question: Where do we go from here as a Clark community? This is an invitation for solidarity. This is a call to partnership. This is a call for genuine systemic change.

This is our time as Clarkies to be true to the ideals and principles that we proudly espouse in our commitment to a more equitable, just, and compassionate community. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will continue our mission to offer a platform for dialogue, strategies, and opportunities for institutional change. The earlier statement announced a process we will be initiating toward dialogue and positive lasting change. We invite you to work with us in moving Clark forward on these important issues now, more than ever.


Sheree M. Ohen

Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion