I want to acknowledge the anger, sadness, pain, and fear felt by many in our community and across our nation, related to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. I recognize the terrible impact that racism and police brutality have in our country and beyond. As an IT community, we stand against racism, cruelty, and violence in any form. It is imperative that we strive to ensure that everyone is valued and respected, and that we share a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
It is not acceptable to ignore these longstanding issues. We can all act in ways that make our community more inclusive by educating ourselves about racism and oppression, engaging in honest, sometimes difficult, conversations, acting on our values, and holding each other accountable to address bias and inequity when we encounter it.
I appreciated the questions you raised at the staff listening post yesterday, and they are not easy questions. As I stated, I felt I was informed, supportive, and empathetic, but after reflecting and discussing the events of the past week, I’ve realized that I still have a lot to learn and understand. To move myself forward, I am increasing my efforts by reading recommended books (thanks for your recommendations), devoting more time to reflecting on these issues, and participating in the university’s BUILD diversity leadership program.
I know this isn’t enough by itself and I don’t have all the answers, but we must all work together to move forward from wherever we are, even when it feels uncomfortable, and make a difference. I greatly appreciated your engagement in the conversation yesterday, and would like to share some of the ideas and resources you provided in the chat:
- Show our students, faculty, and staff who are feeling especially affected by these events that you care. Take time to stop and check in on people, friends, and coworkers.
- Reach out to Eddie Etsey or Curtis Chung, members of “The Coalition - UI Black Men in Technology.” Start a conversation, hear stories, and learn to be an ally.
- Get out of our bubbles and have the difficult conversations. Listen. Don't automatically dismiss. Understand where emotions and opinions are coming from.
- Talk to your children about current events and about privilege.
- National Forum on Demonstrating Care for Black Employees
- 20 things you can do right now as an ally
- Division of Diversity Equity Inclusion's virtual trainings and engagement opportunities
- “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Emotional intelligence webinar presented by the Iowa State Consortium
- Short video about privilege, described by a race for $100
I encourage you to read an update on the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, which highlights efforts underway to advance a more equitable environment and promote inclusiveness on every level at the UI. In February, we submitted a draft of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan for IT to the university. Although the plan is still in draft stage, I will be meeting with the planning team to identify the next steps to putting some of the most critical items from the plan into action. I will keep you informed on those activities.
I care about all of you and I look forward to learning, growing, and making a difference together.
- Associate Vice President and CIO Steve Fleagle