ChE stands united against racism

Sharon Glotzer, the Anthony C. Lembke Department Chair of Chemical Engineering, addresses the ChE community and shares support for the Black Lives Matter movement

Editor’s Note: This message was sent to the ChE community on June 2, 2020.

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The past several days have been difficult ones, to say the least. The disparities in numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths between blacks and whites in our country remind us of the gross and continuing racial inequities in our country when it comes to healthcare, resources and opportunities. And if the inequities laid bare by the pandemic isn’t clear enough, we have only to look at the latest in a seemingly endless string of horrific, senseless deaths of a Black person, made especially revolting by coming — again — at the hands of those sworn to protect us — all of us. My heart hurts for the families of George Floyd in Minnesota, of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, of Sean Reed in Indianapolis, of Tony McDade in Tallahassee and of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

Like so many of you, I am outraged. I am distraught, frustrated, saddened, angry, ashamed and emotionally exhausted. Enough is enough.

What can we – members of the Michigan Chemical Engineering family — do?

We can acknowledge the Black members of our Michigan family who are hurting in a way that most of us — certainly I — cannot truly appreciate from our various positions of privilege. We can say, “I see you. I respect you. I am your ally. I will fight for your right — your human right — to do all of the things I do every day without giving it a second thought, but which you cannot do without worry for your safety. I am not safe until you are safe and your children are safe. I am not free until you are free. You can count on me. I have your back. Black lives matter.

We can remind ourselves and each other of our Michigan values of diversity, equity and inclusion and make sure they pervade every aspect of what we do together. These are core values, without which we have nothing.

We can lift each other up, and recognize that many of these burdens fall unfairly on our Black students, faculty and staff members.

We can recognize the link between the profound stress these traumatic events trigger for our Black colleagues and cardiovascular risk and diabetes. Recent data shows these underlying disorders contribute to the aggressiveness of covid-19 in the Black community.

We can stand up for justice, we can be vocal when we see injustice, and we can show empathy, kindness and love to each other. We can vote.

We can make sure to do all that we can to incorporate evidence-based interventions in our research, our teaching and our interactions with others, to combat racism, discrimination, and bias.

We can stand together at this critical time, support all members of our community and share the responsibility to fight racism together and to bring about long-needed systemic change.

We can take care of ourselves and each other as we continue to process our feelings during this traumatic time.

I am eager to hear from you with any ideas and suggestions you may have for (virtual) events we can hold and actions we can take now within our department, especially during this difficult time. On a personal level, I am participating in local marches (wearing my mask and maintaining social distancing guidelines), signing petitions, calling my local congressperson and donating to groups like Black Lives Matter, Campaign Zero and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Please know that I am always available to talk, discuss or just listen, as needed. Additionally, engineering students can receive support through the Michigan Engineering CARE Center or U-M Counseling and Psychological Services. All faculty and staff can access services through the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office.

In solidarity,

Sharon C. Glotzer