By Claire Dennison and Jaclyn Piñero
on June 4, 2020
Dear uAspire Community:
We write today with profound grief and outrage in our hearts at the horrifying recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others, and at the violence and longstanding systemic injustices against the Black community. uAspire condemns this violence unequivocally, and we are appalled by the actions of those in our country who are endorsing hate and harm amidst the outcry over these deaths.
We stand in solidarity with Black people everywhere who are feeling anger, pain, and exhaustion at injustice, including our uAspire colleagues, community, and students. These senseless acts that perpetuate the idea that the lives of Black people are not valued must stop. This too-common cycle of violence at the hands of those sworn to "protect and serve" must end.
At this critical moment, we must speak up and take action to end the racial injustice that permeates society. For, as James Baldwin once shared, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We must face this moment together, with a firm conviction to achieve meaningful and actionable change.
At the core of uAspire’s mission is the pursuit of educational equity. That means actively fighting against the deep-rooted systemic racism which robs communities of color equitable access to opportunities. We recognize that there is a great deal of work ahead to build a better world where the color of your skin does not determine your educational attainment. Yet the urgency of now demands action and practical solutions, including investments in ensuring access to an education—a proven and powerful contributor to progress.
We commit to examining and sharpening how we approach our work with students, counselors, and policy makers in order to more explicitly advance this mission. We will work to identify and pilot new strategies to reduce racial disparities in postsecondary access, completion, outcomes, and student debt levels. By expanding our student advocacy fellowship, we can amplify student voices in driving systems change and help to build a more diverse generation of policymakers.
In the coming weeks and months ahead, we are committed to doing even more to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization that honors our individual experiences and seeks to promote understanding and empathy for one another. We invite you to learn alongside us with this reading list:
- Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, Paul Kivel
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
- White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, Tim Wise
- "No, I Won’t Stop Saying 'White Supremacy,'" Robin DiAngelo
It may feel difficult to see what change could look like at this moment but continuing together to support our students, and listening and learning from them, is the right step forward. Together, we will act to dismantle the systems that oppress.
Claire Dennison & Jaclyn Piñero
Interim Co-Chief Executive Officers