CTC is committed to advancing anti-racist policies and ideas in all areas of higher education and within our organization. We are horrified by the senseless murder of George Floyd, and the other recent examples of anti-Black police violence including the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and many others who came before them. We are writing because it is important that we as a community be explicit about our shared values and beliefs. We need to do so because no one should have to guess whether their leaders and colleagues see and condemn historical and ongoing racism. We also need to do so because it is only by staying committed to our shared values and beliefs that we can stay aligned in our collective commitment to racial justice.
We believe these murders are the legacy of white supremacy in America, which for centuries has maintained an ideology in which Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies can be owned and harmed by white people. The murders are the fruits of deep roots, planted at America’s founding as a slaveholding nation. We do not believe that the problem will be solved with the arrest and prosecution of the Americans responsible for these deaths. Far deeper changes are required.
This is important to say explicitly because we are an optimistic organization that believes that we can take steps toward greater equality and belonging for all students in college. But our optimism should not be mistaken for blindness to root causes of these systemic issues. Consider that belonging is a basic need, but when people fear death or injury, they cannot ever feel that they belong. CTC as an organization believes we will not see racial justice until belonging is not only an idea but a reality for people of color.
This is why the current phase of work being carried out by the CTC community, focusing on changing the mindsets and behaviors of people in power, interrogating institutional structures, and moving toward dismantling white supremacy, is so essential. We must continue to examine why privileged individuals, in general, and white individuals, in particular, recreate segregation and maintain supremacist ideologies and policies, both explicit and implicit, which make it hard for people of color to experience the safety and the deep and authentic sense of belonging on campus that they deserve.
We believe that this work, the work of CTC, is critically important for the future of psychology, higher education, and America. Many scientists have used so-called scientific inquiry to perpetuate inequality and racist ideologies, and CTC is working ardently to dismantle racist narratives about who can and can’t succeed in higher education. For centuries white people have used such stereotypes about intelligence and ability to justify segregation and exclusion. CTC’s work has the potential to debunk white supremacist ideology.
Further, we must continue to understand the harmful effects of a privileged sense of belonging that white Americans take for granted. How does this contribute to the callous murders of people of color like Ahmaud Arbery, done without fear of consequences? Or the reopening of the economy, which will disproportionately endanger African Americans to a disease that has already taken one out of every 20,000 African American lives in the U.S.? How can white Americans take leadership roles in movements and organizations so that people of color are not disproportionately burdened with the task of both responding to racism and educating others about racism?
As a nation, we are at a pivotal moment in the fight for racial equity. As an organization, CTC recognizes that, together, we have powerful voices and we must use them. CTC is committed to asking the hard questions, having difficult conversations, and learning from our partners. As we move forward, we will continue to examine our own roles and places of privilege as researchers, educators, and citizens committed to creating a just and equitable world. We will hold ourselves accountable for acknowledging and addressing racism and white privilege in higher education. We will remain steadfast in our mission to create learning environments where all students feel they are valued, respected, and can excel. We will approach this work with compassion and generosity for ourselves and others, never losing our optimism for a better future of racial justice.