I write this message during a time when our community is experiencing extreme challenges, and our Black sisters and brothers are dealing with centuries of racism and hurt that are playing out before our very eyes. I am appalled by what has happened just in the last few months including the blatant murder of George Floyd. “I can’t breathe” should never ever happen again. This is not acceptable ever. I know all of us feel angry, hurt, scared, and tired of reading and watching these types of horrific events repeat every day. This has to stop. We are better people. We are a better country. We deserve better.
These acts underscore the importance of our efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of life. It challenges me and all of us to do what is right, and not to wait to make changes. It is also important to take a moment to pause to reflect on and learn from the recent and ongoing national protests. Working together and speaking with one voice is the way forward.
ITS’s committee for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, led by Kaylee Bloom and Keila Walton, quickly created this special resource to help staff self-educate on the history of systemic racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. I wanted to share it with all of you, in case you found it helpful. The collection of resources includes a powerful and heartfelt statement by U-M Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers, which moved me when I read it this weekend. We hear you and we are with you, Rob.
Some of you may have heard me talk about the lesson my mother taught me about the value of diversity. She asked me to look at my hand and pointed out that each finger is of different shape and size. She asked me to pick up a bite to eat and showed that all fingers had to come together for me to be able to eat. Unity in diversity is our strength. With diversity, we are stronger. With diverse ideas, we are smarter. Diversity is not a check in the box, it is who we are. Unified in our diversity and stronger together.
Diversity brings incredible strength, and I am heartened to hear stories of communities coming together, supporting one another and lifting each other up through the pandemic and current events. While we may emerge from the pandemic into a world with new normals, I am confident we will also emerge stronger because of our experiences. I encourage everyone to consider what we can learn from each other, and what new voices we need to amplify or seek out.
Please reach out to your colleagues and let them know you are there for them. I know many of us are hurting. Spread the love and take care. Please reach out to me anytime. I want to hear from you and I care. We are a better community because of each one of you.
Ravi Pendse PhD
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
University of Michigan