We need a new system.

June 1, 2020

The following are statements from the Center for Social Impact Strategy, the School of Social Policy & Practice, and the University of Pennsylvania.

  • CSIS Statement
  • SP2 Statement
  • University of Pennsylvania Statement

Statement from the Center for Social Impact Strategy

Dear World Changers,

We hope this message finds you healthy and safe. We write to you in response to the recent murders of Ahmaud Barbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd, among the countless other unjust deaths of black, brown, and indigenous people. We must acknowledge that these incidents are not isolated but stem from systems of oppression that have always existed in our society. We need a new system. So many of us are working to improve or entirely reshape the current system. Thank you for your work, for using your voice and power to shape our world into something we can be proud of. We want to share with you a message from the University and a note from the Dean of Penn’s School of Public Policy and Practice. We will to continue to educate ourselves and those around us in service of a just, safe, and equal world. We look forward to continuing to support and celebrate your work.

In peace and humility,

The CSIS Team

Dean’s and Advisory Committee on Race and Social Justice Response to Recent Events:

As a school focused on addressing social injustice, SP2’s challenges are greater than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has a grip on our daily conscious and activities. Many of us are consumed with the uncertainties of our jobs, the well-being of our loved ones, our own futures, and lives. It seems like we can barely catch our breaths and are trying to tend to a multitude of present-day, present-minute, and present-second demands, as well as concerns and questions in our personal and professional lives.

In the midst of a global pandemic, we are witnessing the fragile gauze that covered decades of inequities, and centuries of unequal treatment and trauma unravel, exposing the deep seeded scars of our country. The wounds of racism that have never healed and have infected the fabric of our institutions of health, education, criminal justice, housing, etc. will continue to do so long past this pandemic, if we are not able to collectively as a society, not only dress these wounds but get at their root causes – namely, white supremacy, colonialism, and the patriarchy, among others.

The visualization of Ahmaud Arbery being shot to death and the real-time footage of George Floyd’s murder were nothing less than traumatic and present-day lynchings, further compounded by inappropriate responses of our law enforcement and legal systems. These are not isolated events but atrocities in the context of multiple unnecessary killings of Black individuals.

On top of the grave disparities Black and Brown people already face due to white supremacy, colonialism, the patriarchy, and other systems of oppression, COVID-19 exacerbates health inequities as evidenced in the greater proportion of deaths in these communities. Furthermore, the response to this virus has highlighted long-standing anti-Asian and xenophobic prejudices. The pandemic unveils what we already know, that our current policies and practices don’t effectively and adequately address the health, economic, and social justice inequities that exist.

As a school and community, in crises mode, we condemn the continued violence against Black and Brown people and sustain that justice is the way for peace. SP2 is a place where we can foster dialogue between communities and authorities, between students, faculty and administration. Social work has had a historical role in bridging the gap between the socially excluded and the ruling class. We believe that our anger and rage can direct us to a creative dialogue searching for immediate, and long-term solutions to address every injustice that minority communities have experienced for centuries. This dialogue has been delayed and it cannot continue being ignored anymore. In addition, anger and rage can only serve to promote institutional change if they are channeled through coalition-building, analysis, and strategy.

Sara S. Bachman, Dean

Members of the Committee on Race and Social Justice Involved in Writing this Message:

Obed Agrango, Part-time Lecturer, MSW Program
Jerri Bourjolly, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, MSW Program Director
Eda Kauffman, Field Director
Amy Hillier, Associate Professor, MSW Program
Melanie Masin-Moyer, Senior Lecturer, MSW Program, Assistant Director DSW Program
Azahara Palomeque, Associate Director, MS in Social Policy Program
Ariel Schwartz, Managing Director, Center for Social Impact Strategy, Lecturer NPL Program
Joey Wong, Student, NPL Program

Statement on the Death of George Floyd

From Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania

Once again our nation mourns. The tragic and senseless death of George Floyd is a vivid reminder of the inequalities and unacceptable indignities that so many of our citizens constantly endure. The events in Minneapolis this week should lead everyone to recognize how much more work our society must do to realize liberty and justice for all. As a nation we have much work to do.

While the entire Penn community weeps, and our hearts are filled with sadness for this senseless loss of life, we should remember the importance of Penn’s commitment to doing our part to create a more inclusive and mutually respectful environment and society free from discrimination and deprivation.

I especially want Penn’s African American students, faculty and staff to know how much they and their contributions to our community are treasured. It is particularly important at this difficult time that Penn’s students of color know their University supports them, which we unequivocally do. While we may be apart physically at this point in time, we are truly together in spirit.

We all long for the day when we never again bear witness to such a needless death. Our prayers are for the Floyd family, and for a healing of our nation’s soul. Let all of us in the Penn community use this moment to recommit, from the deepest corners of our hearts, to creating a living and learning environment that is truly safe and welcoming for all.