by Dean David B. Allison
No Person of Conscience Can Stand Silent.
I will not recount the events surrounding George Floyd’s horrific death. They are there in full shocking display for all who have eyes to see.
The word outrage is often overused. Not so in this case. The word outrage was made for this situation. It is difficult to imagine anyone with a touch of humanity in them who could witness these events and not be outraged. If this were the first such event of its type, it would be no less outrageous and enraging. Yet, sadly, it is hardly the first event of its type. Time and again, over many years, we have witnessed similar horrific transgressions against our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, our fellow people — and too many times has this been at the hands of the very people entrusted to serve and protect our population.
This must change. Each of us has an obligation to stand up and be counted, to do our part, to work toward solutions. I am not naïve and Pollyannaish. I do not think that my strident words of outrage nor my expressions of solidarity with others who are hurt, tired, scared, and outraged – nor anyone else’s words – will make the problem go away. But we must not remain silent. Together, we must work toward solutions. The courts must do their part. The police must do their part. And we in public health must do our part.
Violence is a public health problem, and we must do our part as scholars and educators to bring light and truth ( Lux et Veritas, the IU motto) to the table to find and promote solutions. Here in the IU Bloomington School of Public Health, we have recognized this moral mandate and we affirmed that publicly in September of last year. In the last 12 months, we have strategically recruited multiple new members to our Dean’s Alliance (our school’s advisory board). Two are especially salient today: Colonel Ishmon Burks, an alumnus of our school, the first African-American commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, and a recipient of the Freedom Award recognizing those who have continued the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Martha Lemert, an Indiana Attorney who is a staunch public advocate for measures to reduce gun violence. And we are fortunate to have in our fold Dr. Maresa Murray, Mr. Rory James, who leads our Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion, and many others who are committed to helping to fight for solutions. We will continue to seek their council on expanding our work in this area.
The School of Public Health–Bloomington and I personally stand with Vice President James C. Wimbush who wrote, “At IU, we denounce all forms of bigotry, hate, and racism, and we will continue to do so.” We stand with Provost Robel who wrote, “Almost sixty years later, black and brown people in this country pour forth anguished stories of being treated as outsiders in their own country. I stand with my students and colleagues of color in King’s web of mutuality. Indiana University stands united against racism.” We stand with President McRobbie who wrote, “We must join together as a strong and vigorous educational community to be inclusive, supportive and welcoming to all. And we must always stand up for what is good and right.” We will join together. We will stand up.
No Person of Conscience Can Stand Silent. All Must Do Their Part.