Dear Fielding Community Members,
It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the deep and profound concern of the violence we have seen perpetrated within many of our communities over the past two weeks. The Fielding community condemns this type of violence and stands in solidarity with the bereaved families and all communities that have been affected over the past two weeks.
The brutal killing of Tyre Nichols comes on the heels of the tragic and violent shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay that impacted our Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Such events are reminders that power, militarization, as well as internalized and lateral oppression due to systemic racism, play a key role in how these crimes manifest and are meted out in an intercommunity dynamic. As we move toward the beginning of February, which is Black History Month, events such as the killing of Tyre Nichols stand as a stark reminder that these acts of unbridled domination and power reflect Black Feminist Theorist Audre Lorde’s insights and references. She stated that it is never enough to simply change the oppressive situations that we seek to escape, but rather to confront and liberate ourselves from that piece of the oppressor planted deep within us.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis referred to this incident as “heinous, reckless, and inhumane.” Tyre Nichols was 29 years old; he was a son, brother, uncle, and father. He was an individual who was a strong supporter of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and supported the Idle No More campaign. He also was outspoken about the resilience and strength of African Americans in the face of centuries of racism and violence. Yet and still, his demise raises powerful questions to the forefront, specifically as to how and in which ways Black lives are valued or devalued in our society. It shows the role of systemic power structures in maintaining their own hegemony, even over life and death; furthermore, the nuanced fact that Tyre’s brutal death was committed by five Black officers raises the uncomfortable and oft-neglected conversations regarding lateral violence and internalized oppression. Audre Lorde’s quote reinforces this dynamic and emphasizes why this particular situation is doubly unsafe for Black communities, who must tend not only to collective grief but also to the complexities that are layered within the relationship between policing and Blackness. This relationship is rooted in this nation’s history of enslavement. While this tragedy unfolds and more information is shared, the Memphis Police Chief has denounced these actions and has taken swift and decisive action against this group of officers.
We recognize that our students, staff, faculty, and alums may be grappling with collective or individual trauma, or both, related to all of these events. We ask each member of our community to be kind, patient, and compassionate as the days proceed and more comes to light regarding Tyre’s death and the collective grief of the families of Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park.
As a reminder, SOAR offers confidential services for students and employees during this difficult time.
We also encourage you to find community on campus. In this spirit, we invite you to a 3 Practice Circle Dialogue to come together and share your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.
Please join us Thursday, Feb. 2 at 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. PST | 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. EST. Please contact email@example.com for the Zoom link or register here.
In Spirit and Solidarity,
Allison Davis-White Eyes, Ph.D.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion