Dear Texas Woman’s Community,
I hope this message finds you well and hopeful—even as we grieve—in hearing Rev. Al Sharpton’s eulogy for George Floyd: “May he rest in power!”
I recently learned that technology has apparently failed in some cases to transmit my messages. This failure has left a few feeling like “the university’s silence is deafening and disheartening.” I am sorry to hear it! The web team does post these messages on my website. Nevertheless, I will take your expressions of disappointment as an opportunity to step up efforts—in words as well as communication through action—so that Texas Woman’s renouncement of injustice and support of our black and brown communities is undeniably clear.
As protests continue, I have heard loud and clear from members of our black and brown communities: “We are tired!” and “We are NOT ok!!” I have also heard others express a feeling of being lost and unsure of what to do. And recently, I have learned the concept of performative allyship, which includes the notion that it is easier to express outrage about others’ behavior than, as the popular refrain goes, to “take a look at yourself and make a change.”
At last year’s annual conference of the American Council on Education, Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility (2018) and Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the updated Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (2017) led a keynote, Talking about Race. What I took away from this session and their influential texts is that we each have to commit to walking the road; there are no taxis or shortcuts.
My research area includes a focus on listening, and I plan to use my experience with listening in a new project intended to heal, acknowledge, challenge, and ultimately spur change. I will unveil the project on social media—@TWUpres—next week. Heeding the words of Michelle Alexander in her final chapter of The New Jim Crow (2010), it is incumbent upon those with privilege to lead change rather than to ask those marginalized by systemic racism to fix it themselves. So, just as the Disney organization implores its team, my challenge is to the Texas Woman’s community: whether it is my fault or not, it is my problem.
While we have recently—and rightly—shifted attention to protesting systemic racism against black and brown communities and police brutality, we are also continuing to grapple with the far-reaching impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Tomorrow, I want to offer an update on our plans to foster thriving campus communities in the fall.
I know we all have much weighing on us, each differently, and some more than others. Your courage, wisdom, and perseverance continue to inspire me. The care you have shown each other and our communities assures me that we are actively engaged in building a better tomorrow. We must stay the course, and we will walk it together.
With pioneering spirit,
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President
Chancellor and President
P.S. For the latest information, check out TWU's COVID-19 webpage.