"Our Hearts Are Heavy": Message from GW's Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE)

May 31, 2020

Originally published on diversity.gwu.edu/ May 31, 2020


The Corcoran would like to share this message from GW’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) with our community.


Dear Members of the GW Community,


We are sad. We are suffering. Our hearts are heavy. And, we will not forget the Black lives and names of those taken from us too soon due to racism.


The Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) is horrified by the acts of violence repeatedly inflicted on Black people, often at the hands of people in positions of power. It is deeply disturbing to turn on the TV, check social media, or even worse, receive a phone call in the middle of the night, bringing news of yet another egregious act of racism in the United States. These acts, incidents, and senseless behaviors and decisions are killing the Black community - literally.


Sadly, the current global pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black people is also rooted in systemic racism and discrimination. This reality is being felt by members of the Black community in massive loss of life and economic devastation. We know that the Black community is laboring under this heavy, heavy burden directly and indirectly.  


We, in ODECE, hold the GW community even tighter right now. We condemn racism and anti-Blackness, and the violence that has killed so many Black people. We acknowledge that racism and white supremacy are part of the foundation of this country, and we hope that each day our team in ODECE moves us closer to a more equitable and just future where a letter like this is not needed. We understand that many of our GW community members deal with, feel, and live with racism on a daily basis. For many Black people and communities of color, racism and state sanctioned violence are not new. What is new is today’s frequent filming of this violence, such that the world can see them in their most grotesque forms. Holding these atrocities up to the light is necessary, and they still take a toll on the hearts and minds of Black people all over the globe.


While many people continue to ask for a return to the “normal,” we know that for Black people and those from historically marginalized communities, that means a continuation of oppression, injustice, hate, and violence. We have to create something better. We have to raise higher.  


Over the coming days, ODECE and university partners will host events for the GW community to come together to process, work on healing, learn from one another, and move towards action. We recognize that sharing what you feel right now may also be critical and timely, and offer you space to do so here. Please know that our university resources for support remain available, including Counseling and Psychological Services, Advocacy & Support, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Faculty Affairs, and of course ODECE.


To Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni, and community partners, we see you and send you love and strength. Your existence matters, you are enough, and we are with you. Near or far, together we Raise High.