Dear Evergreen Community,
Derek Chauvin’s conviction Tuesday on all counts in the murder of George Floyd marks the latest chapter in our ongoing national reckoning on race and policing.
Our relief that justice prevailed in this case does not reverse the fact that George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. The nation witnessed as Floyd’s life ebbed away on the pavement. The video that helped convict Chauvin also starkly exposed the ingrained systemic injustice still very much present in our country.
Seeing these images over and over re-traumatized many of our Black community members and other people of color, who are often exposed to violence, harassment and barriers if they try to do the things others take for granted. To freely exercise the right to vote, or browse in a store without being followed. To drive somewhere, not get pulled over and risk being shot.
In the aftermath of the verdict, George Floyd’s family is calling for peace, and we should respect their wishes. But that does not mean we as a college shall or can be still. Let’s lean into the work of criminal justice reform and strengthening police accountability. Let’s educate ourselves about the racism that is embedded in our nation’s history and present. Let’s acknowledge our feelings, create community and reach out to support one another in this quest.
Please plan to join our Reimagining Community Safety seminars, where Evergreen brings dynamic local experts together to talk about public safety and alternatives to policing. The first session will be this Friday, April 23, 12 to 1:30 p.m. with Olympia public defender Larry Jefferson, Olympia Police Department Outreach Coordinator Anne Larsen and peer navigators Melissa McKee and Keith Whiteman (you can join us on Zoom). We are proud of these Evergreen alumni.
One way to educate ourselves about our nation’s history of racism is to study ways to overcome it. Governor Inslee is soon set to sign a bill, SB 5227, which will provide support for Washington students, staff and faculty to learn about and advance diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism. Evergreen community members influenced the language of the bill, which will bring more resources to this critical work.
As we recognize the pain and grief over systemic racism, it’s important to support our BIPOC community. The effects of long-term trauma are powerful and exhausting. If you are feeling anxiety and stress, please consider connecting with Evergreen’s First Peoples Multicultural, Trans, and Queer Support Services, Student Wellness Counseling Services, or the Washington State Employee Assistance Program.
The verdict yesterday was a small but overdue milestone along a long American journey toward the promise of racial justice. We take hope from this outcome, and we are realistic about the road ahead.
Evergreen's Senior Leadership Team