The Doctoral and Graduate Students’ Council (DGSC) stands in solidarity with the families of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the innumerable other Black people who have suffered under systemic racism in the United States and around the world. We condemn these senseless murders and call for action against the perpetrators of these crimes. 

The cruel killing of George Floyd has brought us to a catalytic point for American race relations. The Black community and the enlightened masses have taken to the streets to protest, not just this most recent example of racist aggression, but everything that it represents. For too long, being Black in America has subjected entire communities to disadvantages and discrimination. Laws have changed and we are equal on paper, but the application of the law to people of color is far from equal. In America, people of color continue to live in a world furnished by negative assumptions – about their intelligence, their intentions, their very humanity – in ways inconceivable to the White majority. 

The oppressive and violent responses of State authorities to the ongoing demonstrations and protests have only fanned the flames, igniting and fueling various combinations of anger, pain, grief, fear, and hopelessness over these injustices. We call for more effective leadership at all levels of governance, that will address the underlying issues needed to unite this nation, rather than the continued actions to vilify Black communities and divide us further. 

Centuries of demonization of Black peoples, and particularly Black men, have seeped into the very consciousness of even the well-intended. We must unpack these issues in our daily lives and call out this inbred and deep-rooted dehumanization where it exists, and we must have the hard conversations that open the eyes of the White majority to their privilege, and to their role in the problem, even when unintended. We must avoid and reject “color-blindness” and acknowledge that we cannot address what we ignore. We must examine our understanding and approach to diversity, and accept that it has fallen short of true inclusion in decision-making spaces. 

As an institution of higher learning in Manhattan, New York, and world-renowned for its work in social activism and community justice, the Graduate Center must lend tangible support and assistance to the movement and to demonstrators, among whom are members of our own community. The GC must take a clear stance on the issue, as several other institutions of higher learning have done and must also acknowledge and address the racial injustice embedded in its own structures. We must open safe spaces for dialogue and protest, both in person, and virtual. A choice must be made to amplify the message of the cause, not just agree with it, and to work diligently every day against the racism and inequality that surround us at the GC and beyond. The well-being of GC students, and our sense of justice are tied to the institution’s response. 

The Doctoral and Graduate Students’ Council stands ready to lend such support. We invite the demonstrators and the affected among us to help us direct our efforts. 

We are all human and have the right to life and dignity, yet that ideal is not a lived reality for Black people in America. That reality has so far failed to shape our thinking about how society operates. So while we are all important, at this moment, we must all accept that it is time to reshape our society into a space where Black lives matter. 

Roderick Hurley
Co-Chair for Communications

On Behalf of the Steering Committee
Doctoral and Graduate Students’ Council (DGSC)