Dear Seattle University Students,
It is with grieving hearts that we write to you. We grieve the loss of the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Manuel Ellis, and the countless other Black people who have been killed in this country, a country built on the evil of white supremacy. To our Black students: we repent of our failure to truly see and adequately respond to the burdens of racism you carry. We commit to a new way of proceeding in the future.
We write as people of faith to our campus community. We remember that our holy scriptures embody a message of love and justice, rather than dominance and oppression. Our university’s Catholic, Christian heritage is founded on the principle that all people are created in God’s image and that the life and dignity of every person is of ultimate importance. For far too long, the life and dignity of Black people in the United States has been systematically undermined, denied, and extinguished. This has often been supported and perpetuated by silence from white Christian communities. Therefore, our faith demands that we commit to dismantling the structures of racism and injustice infecting our institutions and hearts.
As people of faith, we are rooted in the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who embodied God’s message of dignity and love. In his time, Jesus’s proclamation that “the reign of God is among you” (Luke 17:21) was radical, defiant, and hopeful. The cross, itself a symbol of state-sponsored violence, reminds us of the execution of countless Black people in our own country at the hands of police and our justice system. Faith requires us to hear and join the voices of people most victimized by our unjust and unequal systems. To be a person of faith today is to defiantly proclaim with hope, “Black lives matter.”
As a campus community, we must join each other in ongoing, prayerful discernment in the service of racial justice. We must listen more carefully to the needs and experiences of Black students and community members. We acknowledge that you, our students, lead us on this journey along a path that demands personal, communal, and institutional conversion – the call to “system and soul work” that Dr. Natasha Martin invited us to in last week’s vigil for racial justice. With faith, we approach a future full of hope, as promised by a loving and merciful God.
Campus Ministry remains committed to working at the intersection of faith and justice. We will continue to foster a healthy community on our campus. We will prayerfully question and define our role in the work for racial justice as we pursue God’s dream of justice and peace in our world.
In solidarity and hope,
Seattle University Campus Ministry Staff