Message from President Dr. Anthony E. Munroe
Dear Essex County College Community,
In recent days the heart-wrenching and unjust deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have transformed the spirit of our nation. While we see ourselves in these beautiful individuals, we mourn the pain of loss for their families and communities. For many, these events can be a trigger, forcing us to relive personal trauma and question our own safety. After hearing of these shootings and seeing the horrific videos, I immediately remembered the fear I experienced when being racially profiled by the NYPD while taking college classes in lower Manhattan, and the adrenaline and fear that ran through my body while I was being chased on my bicycle by a group of white boys in a vehicle shouting vulgar and racist threats to end my life. Know that these experiences are normal, and talking about them will help us all heal. I welcome students in need of individual support in processing these current events to contact the Wellness Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The response of the protests are the result of people being tired, hurt, angry, sad, afraid, confused, anxious, triggered, traumatized, bewildered, and demanding of immediate change. Many have been the victims of violence and systematic disparities in education, income, housing, health, and access to so many things and beyond. On-going systemic issues of racism, classism, homophobia, and xenophobia, have caused many to be shut out of job opportunities, denied equal education, denied justice, profiled, spat on, called names, hunted, hung, dehumanized, objectified, discriminated against, stereotyped as aggressive, stripped of humanity, and unfortunately, killed.
We must recognize that these events and images of protests are just the tipping point. These issues have been brewing and intensifying for decades with evermore bold manifestations in recent years.
The call for listening, communication, and change is well intentioned, but there is a cry for immediate, sustained, meaningful replacement of the systemic structures that perpetuates these social ills, with a fair, inclusive, respectful system that values everyone, especially people of color, Black and Brown people of particular note. The systemic disparities have inflicted tremendous pain and suffering on communities of color for generations. The disproportionate morbidity and mortality of African-Americans, Hispanics and other communities of color suffering with COVID-19 right here in Newark is one painful example of the manifestations of these inequalities.
Let us not forget the long history of violence and rioting that bring us to this point in history, including our very own institution. Formed in the crucible of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, the people of Essex County chose to create an open access institution with the explicit purpose of attending the needs underserved Black students. This College stands as an example of the very social systematic change our nation needs. As the Country mobilizes to rapid change on social injustice, know that our students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been successful in chipping away at inequality, changing the status quo for generations. Together, we will continue our progress as we move forward on from these events and important movement, building a safe space for all students to pursue opportunities for embitterment without fear of discrimination or violence.
We are all touched by what has occurred by the peaceful demonstrations. We do not condone the willful and intentional destruction of property. We support the right to protest peacefully and demand the freedom to breathe and live, freely, without the fear of retaliation, profiling, or any infringement on human/civil rights, for all. With that, we affirm the role and responsibility Essex County College as a vehicle for social justice, equity, access, academic excellence, and socio-economic mobility.