President’s Corner: May 2022
Greetings Alumni, Fellows, Partners, and Friends,
I wish you health and safety while praying for the community and victims of White Supremacy in Buffalo. I’m praying for Miss Pearly Young, a 77-year-old mother and grandmother who spent her life serving others and running a food pantry. White supremacy and racism stole her life on a regular grocery pick-up and robbed the community of her grace, strength, and love. I mourn with her family, the families of the other victims, and the entire community. Racism and supremacy must be eradicated.
A month ago, ten lives were taken in Brooklyn, and there is currently a hate crimes investigation happening in Dallas. If we looked at every state, there were be more of the same: emboldened racism and people doubling down on supporting supremacy; this isn’t acceptable. The real leaders of every community must begin to use their voices, influence, purpose, and power to stand up to oppression.
Every book on equity banned, every section of history we ignore, every affordable housing conversation we gloss over, every school district we allow to censure teachers and cherry-pick curriculum is an action that fuels white supremacy. Our collective inaction or passive frustration with injustice is making us complicit with the hatred being spewed across our country; enough is enough.
It’s time we inform elected officials that their coveted votes are on hold until we see courageous legislation, admission of the impact supremacy continues to have on our country and visible accountability for the racist actions by those currently serving as elected officials. There needs to be a shift in the “loudest in the room.” Don’t you think it’s time for the reasonable, community-centered, justice-oriented folks to dominate this critical conversation?
Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are continually targeted for execution, injustice, and inequity. We have to abandon surface-level relationships and conversations and take the time and resources to dig beneath the surface to understand the lived experiences of people. Leaders must start leading with an equity lens and zero tolerance for supremacy.
In our professional settings, we have to ask, what is our commitment to equity and what are we actively doing to honor the commitment? We also must ask what policies or procedures do we have in place that create barriers or stop anyone from thriving.
Regardless of what some government officials may be saying, now is absolutely the time to talk openly and honestly about race, the sins of America’s past, and how America can be great for everyone for the first time!
We have a choice as leaders, we can mount up like Optimus Prime and the Autobots and take the fight to those committed to oppression, or we can allow fear and inaction take us back in time to Jim Crow and more tragedies that rob the world of saints such as Miss Pearly.
Friends, no matter your race, gender, station in life, or zip code, the choice is yours; what will you do? Let’s be great on purpose and finally begin to create an America where everyone thrives.
Dr. Ryan Ross
Dr. Ryan E. Ross is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion for the Colorado Community College System and President & CEO of the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado.