A Message from President Farahi
Dear Kean Community,
Like so many of you, I was angered and upset by the tragic and utterly senseless death of George Floyd. The grief that I feel — and that I know so many of you are struggling with as well — is not only for Mr. Floyd, who died in such a horrific way. It is for all people who have suffered under similar circumstances because of the color of their skin. The list is too long, and it is utterly unacceptable and shameful for an advanced and multicultural society.
I have watched the peaceful protests across our country with great hope and found encouragement in hearing so many voices, finally, join the chorus and demand both accountability and change. At the same time, I am saddened and frustrated by the violence and looting that have engulfed so many of our cities and towns across the nation this past week. It has no place in this movement for justice.
In 2020, most of us like to believe that we understand the values of inclusiveness better than the generations that came before us. But Mr. Floyd’s death reminds us that bigotry, racism and hate are still prevalent in America. We cannot accept this kind of hate as a normal part of life. We must not acquiesce in the face of inequality and injustice.
We have to do much better.
When we created the Human Rights Institute at Kean, we didn’t just want to shine a spotlight on the horrors of our past. We wanted to help make sure those horrors would never repeat. When you enter the Institute, the first thing you see are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that read, "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere." That is followed by, "Give everyone the same rights that you claim for yourself." We want our students and our campus community to hear and think about these words and stand up for justice. Until we all stand up against injustice and bias when we see it, until we call out hate for what it is, we are doomed to see more deaths like Mr. Floyd’s.
The diversity of our campus is one of Kean’s greatest strengths, and that is true of our nation as well. Remaining silent or avoiding difficult conversations about race in America does not lead to solutions. There is work to be done not only in law enforcement, but in every corner of our hearts. The responsibility rests with each one of us. We must search deep into our own hearts and into the soul of America and do all we can to root out racism once and for all.
We’re separated by COVID-19 right now, but we are all still united as one community. I ask you to join me in standing up against hate in all its forms. Whether you choose to participate in a peaceful protest or choose to simply share your message with family and friends, you can use your voice to bring about change, fight for social justice and make equality of opportunity a reality. Leveling the playing field for all should be our primary objective, starting with education, from K-12 to higher education. So, raise your voice for justice and equality. The time is now.
Your voices, not violence, will help heal our nation and the grief we all share. I have great hope and faith in each of you to be part of that healing. Our country depends on it.
Dawood Farahi, Ph.D.