Dear Fielding Community,

I am writing to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As we journey through life, we meet people who have lived through extraordinary circumstances. It is hard to imagine how individuals not only survive instances of deep trauma but manage to find a way to live in and with a world that betrayed them at some point in their life. It is harder still when the extraordinary circumstance involves unspeakable inhumane acts. The betrayal becomes a moral betrayal against life itself – the deepest cut of all.

As an undergraduate college student, I was blessed to learn from two individuals— the landlords of the small apartment where I lived. Their kindness was juxtaposed against the violence perpetrated on their aged bodies. Their forearms bore the brute and crude tattoos of numbers, evidence of their forced deportation to Auschwitz and the loss of their entire families, save themselves. There was nothing one could say or do to erase the memory or the tattoos. A stilted silence hung over all of us the first time the crude numbers made themselves visible, bearing silent witness to the past. In these moments, we must reckon with our past histories and seek to understand, interrupt, disrupt, and courageously agitate for change.

For this reason, Yom HaShoah is so important. This grotesque distortion of the human spirit is meant not as a final focal point and indictment of humanity but rather as the beginning of asserting a newness, a commitment to ensuring that such feckless disregard for the sanctity of all human life, is not given the opportunity to root itself. Yom HaShoah should give us pause to reflect on how systemic racism, implicit biases, and the resulting micro-aggressions that enforce regimes of race and oppression may and often do lead to genocide. This understanding is critical for our DEI work, we must seek to understand how negative racialization as a discursive strategy sets the stage for oppression that subsumes and consumes race, ethnicity, class, gender, ability, and beliefs into an intricate caste system of those whose lives are expendable. It is for this reason that we must remain vigilant against extremism of any kind.

Equity requires that we are keen to root out and call out “expendability politics” even in our deeply divided discourse. The current culture of seeming acceptability around the deaths of vulnerable communities in the Covid-19 pandemic foreshadows disturbing trends if we are not careful. We must understand that to remain vigilant against extremism means to remain vigilant for the sanctity of life and for the dignity of all individuals. This vigilance is not only the work of DEI experts, or activists, but rather it is the responsibility of each of us to one another to assure that the covenant between all human beings and the natural world is upheld, the covenant of life.

As fierce advocates for social justice, Yom HaShoah serves as a reminder of what happens to society when we abrogate all sense of social responsibility to one another and when we focus solely on our solipsistic self and our sometimes-self-centered desires and feelings. This day of remembrance is also a time to consider the resilience and strength of the human spirit, and what it means to maintain hope and love in the face of hatred, evil and senseless death.

In remembering Yom HaShoah, let us, as the Fielding Community, remember the words of the prophet Moses, “Justice, Justice you shall pursue.” These powerful words, coming after Pesach (Passover) a celebration of liberation and call for justice, should not only inspire us to speak up and out against all forms of bigotry and hatred, but these very words should fill our souls with strength and resolve to live out this covenant of truth and justice between all of humanity. Regardless of our traditions, heritage, culture, and various backgrounds, there is a deeper understanding of the relationship between all things, living and non-living, as part of the Sacred. Our obligation and responsibility is to ensure that the covenant of life remains sacrosanct.

In remembrance of Yom HaShoah, I encourage you to participate in the upcoming virtual events:

Oregon State University Holocaust Memorial Week Virtual Events

Events are scheduled between April 25 and May 3, 2022, and will feature virtual presentations on the following intersectional themes:

How Masculinity and Alcohol Fed Mass Murder
Dr. Edward Westermann ( Texas A&M University)

Escaping the Holocaust
Joe Hess, six years old survivor of the Kindertransport

Stalin and Mao, and Two Cataclysms That They Engineered
Dr. Hua-Yu Li (Oregon State University)

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Dr. Luhui Whitebear (Oregon State University)

The Return of History? The Continuous Challenge to Democracy and Universal Human Rights
Dr. Philipp Kneis (Oregon State University)
Dr. Rebecca Murray (Oregon State University)
Dr. Allison Davis-White Eyes (Fielding Graduate University)
International Student Presenters

Why Hannelore Klein Did Not Suffer the Same Fate as Her Childhood Friend, Anne Frank
Dr. Laureen Nussbaum (Survivor from Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

Teaching the Holocaust Through Film, to Children, Tweens, and Teenagers
Dr. Lawrence Baron (Professor of Jewish History at San Diego State University–retired)

In Spirit,
Allison Davis-White Eyes, Ph.D.

To learn more about the doctoral program in Organizational Development and Change, please visit the School of Leadership Studies and the Organizational Development and Change sections of this site.

To learn more about sustainability leadership concentration at Fielding Graduate University, please visit the doctoral concentrations section of the site.

About the Author: Fielding News

Stories about people, issues, research, and innovation across the Fielding global community as reported by the Fielding News Team.

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