The recent deaths of Daunte Wright, six Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in the Atlanta area, and countless other shootings continues to highlight the deep systemic racism and gun violence in our communities. We must condemn and actively work to eliminate violence in all its forms, including the recent mass shootings in Indianapolis (where four of those killed were Sikh elders) and Boulder. This work begins with respecting the worth and dignity of all people and includes holding space for healing and listening to and amplifying the voices of marginalized communities.
Unfortunately, the acts of violence against Black communities, AAPI communities, and others in minoritized communities, as well as acts of voter suppression, further highlight the impact of racism and social injustice. To end systemic racism that is rooted in our history, we need to acknowledge privilege and strive for equity, diversity, and inclusion in all our actions! We must rise to the occasion and dismantle hatred.
Violence has ripple effects. The social work perspective helps us understand that any act of violence harms the immediate family, the friends of the individuals, and communities. As we engage in our classrooms, with our colleagues, and with our families, let us remember that conversations around difference may be uncomfortable, but they are necessary. I understand that many are confused or anxious about how to have these conversations, how to speak up, what to say, how to support others, and more importantly how to be an ally.
Personally, I often feel unsure of how to speak out and find my place in the racial justice movement. As a white man in a multiracial family (Chinese and Mexican American), I am often silent or afraid to talk about my family since it feels like privilege to be able to do so. My own white privilege has and continues to affect others including my daughters and spouse. If I do not speak up, then I am complicit with my silence. In the last week, my family attended an “End Anti-Asian Hate” rally where many shared their stories of discrimination and harm. In the same week, Allison (my spouse) shared yet another incident of someone making a racial slur against her as a Mexican American. Like so many of you, I am afraid for my family’s safety and concerned that the next act of violence might involve them as they face systems and environments built to preserve privilege and power. I share this to acknowledge that we all have complicated backgrounds, fears, and anxiety that cannot stand in the way as we press forward together to end racism. I am committed to deepening my education, supporting others, and being actively anti-racist. My hope is that everyone will do the same so that no one fears for themselves or their loved ones simply because of their race or ethnicity.
Our journey to becoming anti-racist, as individuals and as an academic community, is a life-long endeavor to which we must be wholeheartedly committed. The TSSW Empowering Change Task Force is here to support our work among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community. It is planning several activities in the next few months, and this work will continue to support our journey both individually and as a community.
Support systems are invaluable to healing. Please access resources as needed, including the School of Social Work Self-care and Empowering Change websites. Students can reach out to Counseling Services, and faculty and staff can contact Tulane’s EAP.
We stand, in solidarity with our colleagues, students, and communities, against discrimination, racism, and violence. Please be kind and extend grace to one another as we strive towards a peaceful future where all human rights, and human lives, are upheld, cherished, and respected!
Patrick S. Bordnick, PhD, MPH, LCSW
Dean, Tulane School of Social Work