Statement from Dr. Christopher Taylor on recent racial violence
"It’s our responsibility to pay attention to big news stories and to the small news stories."
Dear Waterloo community,
I, like many of you, have been watching the news about recent incidents of violence in the United States motivated by hate. Personally, I’m tired of waking up every morning to pain, death, and suffering. Of people that look like me. That look like many of you.
The mass shooting during Lunar New Year celebrations in California and subsequent shooting in a small nearby agricultural community targeting newcomers is felt by not only those who lost loved ones, but by all of us.
And on Friday, the dehumanization of Black bodies was once again put on display when video footage of the murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police was released to the public.
These are the stories that are currently dominating our news feeds and they are tragic. We see them and we are hurt.
Also tragic are the stories that don’t grab the world’s attention. The stories of less sensational, but no less brutal acts of violence that are motivated by racism and hate. These happen in our communities almost every day. They happen in Canada almost every day - we are not immune.
It’s our responsibility to pay attention to big news stories and to the small news stories.
So today I remember the victims in the Lunar New Year and agricultural worker shootings. I remember Tyre Nichols. And I also remember these Canadians, just three examples from an endless list of victims of racialized violence here at home:
Safiullah Khosrawi, 15 - who was gunned down in 2020 outside his school, Woburn Collegiate.
Kartik Vasudev, 21 - who was shot on his way to work last summer.
Nyima Dolma, 28 - who was set on fire on public transportation also in the summer of 2022.
I also think today about the thousands of families grieving and being retraumatized by the seemingly unending stream of news about newly discovered graves at former Residential School grounds.
I think about the Jewish community being targeted with Swastikas scrawled on Synagogues so often that the incidents don’t always even make the local news. And I think about a woman wearing a Hijab walking down the street in broad daylight being attacked and having that Hijab violently torn from her body.
It’s not just this kind of explicit violence that racialized Canadians must contend with either. We know that racialized communities face many barriers. We live in a neo-liberal and settler colonial system that embeds systemic oppression within our institutions.
Waterloo is working to change this through initiatives like PART, but change can’t come fast enough. Some days this work feels heavy, for me and for my team. But we push on because we have to if we are going to make this university better.
I’m writing today to acknowledge this moment of explicit pain and trauma, to make sure that you know that there are supports for you at Waterloo if you are struggling right now, but I’m also writing so that you know that Waterloo sees you.
We do. I do.
Dr. Christopher Taylor
Associate Vice-President, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism
Support for Students
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