A letter from transnational studies professor Cecil Foster
Editors Note: This letter remains in the condition it was sent.
Dear Despina & Robin
I write to draw attention to the deafening silence emanating from the University at Buffalo and the College of Arts and Science on developments following the brutal execution of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police and the resulting street protest across the nation and internationally by diverse groups calling for racial equality.
There was a statement from President Tripathi, but I noticed in the past week just about every major university in the United States, apart from a presidential statement, has held some event as a forum for discussion on race and particularly the African American experiences in this country.
UB has remained silent in this regard. This is particularly most noticeable as Buffalo has become an epicenter for discussion about the protest. Why are we at UB so silent? This is contrary to our legacy, especially that of the African and African American Studies Program now celebrating its 50th anniversary. This program was always in the limelight, as among the first such programs in the nation, and as providing the fora for civil rights speakers through the ages. In this spirit, and in the midst of this silence, some of us still in the program took it upon ourselves to seek out media attention nationally and internationally so that we could fly the UB flag.
Particularly noticeable is the silence from the Center for Diversity Innovation. When we in the Department of Transnational Studies came up with the ideas and plans called Diversity Difference and Cultural Awareness (DDCAS) that would become the basis for CDI and its funding from Albany, it was also for events and times like these and for UB to have a loud and respected voice.
Perhaps in the coming week--before it gets too much later--the Office for Inclusive Excellence and the CDI would break this silence. To be true to its history and legacy--saying nothing about its students, faculty and alumni--UB must continue to be part of this very important conversation on the evolution of civil rights, the acceptance of diversity and cultural awareness, in Buffalo, New York, the nation and even internationally.