To the Duke Community,
Like many of you, I have been following the trial of Derek Chauvin, who was convicted today in Minneapolis of the murder of George Floyd. Today’s verdict, which was by all appearances rendered by a fair and impartial judicial process, comes as we are reeling from seemingly constant and painful news like that of the killings of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center and Adam Toledo in Chicago.
This horrific convergence of events is sadly predictable. It is estimated that Black Americans are three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police, and research has demonstrated that racial bias can play a significant role in police violence. These occurrences are by no means limited to Minnesota or Illinois; they reflect long-standing and pervasive trends of social and economic injustice against Black people and other people of color.
Here at Duke, we are not insulated from these terrible events. We recognize that this is a deeply painful and traumatic time for many members of our community. The Center for Multicultural Affairs and the Mary Lou Williams Center are open one day a week for a collective gathering space, and free and anonymous counseling is available to any member of the Duke community needing support—for Duke students through Blue Devils Care and for faculty and staff through the Personal Assistance Service. Students can access support as well through their faculty and academic deans.
Duke will also continue to seek racial justice through our research, teaching and community life. To that end, we have made anti-racism a core university priority. We’ve launched new programs and redoubled our ongoing efforts, seeking to better educate ourselves and others about enduring inequities and biases. We’re bringing our research expertise to bear on exposing and remedying structural inequities, including through criminal justice reform. And we share a fundamental responsibility for residential, classroom and workplace environments that truly reflect our commitments to racial justice.
As this work goes forward, I want to acknowledge the continuing traumas faced by our Black students, faculty, staff, neighbors, and other people of color throughout the United States every day. The promises of equality and opportunity that define our nation will elude us unless we confront and overcome the racial injustice that pervades society. Duke is fully committed to providing leadership to that end.
Very best wishes,