Dear Members of the Law School Alumni Association,
The recent death of George Floyd is yet another tragic reminder of the deadly impact of racism in our country. In just the last several weeks, we have seen so many of these horrific deaths, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, to name just a few. Recent history shows that these deaths are just a few in a seemingly endless line of black men and women who have lost their lives solely because of the color of their skin.
Structural racism is pervasive and insidious, affecting law enforcement, housing, healthcare, education, employment, access to justice, voting rights - the very fabric of our society. We have, through our silence and inaction, through our unexamined observations and participation, and through our privilege, allowed the cancer of racism to exist and grow for too long.
As lawyers, we aspire to systems of justice that adjudicate disputes and allegations in a reasoned and careful manner. These systems, that we uphold and that we serve, promise due process, presumptions of innocence, and the equality of all people. These systems fail when black men and women are summarily and violently executed, are threatened, are excluded, and are denied voice and opportunity.
I urge you to stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters, and to offer comfort and support to members of our community who are mourning, and who fear for themselves, their children, and their loved ones. I also urge you to take time to learn about structural racism in our society. This list of books, compiled by UConn’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is a good starting point, and there are countless other resources, in a variety of media, that can assist you. I urge you to take the first steps to learn, so that you may then take the necessary steps to act. This journey may cause pain and confusion, and will raise difficult questions. That journey, however, is the least that we can do right now, so that we might emerge from this moment as a more just and equitable society.
These are not distant problems. I urge you to take a stand and play an active role in dismantling the pillars of structural racism that exist all around us, including in our workplaces and in our many communities. I urge you to find ways to become an ally, and to lend your voice, resources, and efforts to ending racism in all of its forms. The coming weeks will undoubtedly bring new cares and concerns, and countless pulls on our time and energies. These may invite us to say that we will address this soon. For our brothers and sisters who are in mourning right now, who experience and witness racism every day, the time for change cannot come soon enough.
In love and solidarity,
Cecil J. Thomas
UConn Law School Alumni Association, Inc.