A Statement from Dr. Lisa M. Coleman on Breonna Taylor's Grand Jury (9/29/20)
Dear NYU Community Members,
Breonna Taylor, a Black woman, moments before asleep in her apartment, was shot and killed by three police officers. Two officers were not charged; one officer was charged with endangering Breonna Taylor’s white neighbors. The layers and levels of individual, structural, and systemic racism and violence that led to Breonna’s killing are well researched and documented. The degradation faced by Black people and other historically marginalized communities at the micro- and macro-levels, both subtle and overt, has been recorded in numerous studies as simply a fact of daily life for so many. History reminds us that such practices are not new nor surprising and that they are ongoing, deeply rooted historically, and woven into many of our systems.
Today, September 29, many in NYC and around the United States are participating in “A Day without Black Womxn,” a general strike for Breonna Taylor and in recognition of the needed action to address the ongoing racism and violence directed toward Black Womxn. OGI supports NYU community members who are participating in the strike and schools, units, and departments that are engaging in related activities and discussions.
Personally, as I have written to you before not only am I frustrated, troubled, outraged, exhausted, and deeply alarmed by the continuation and retrenchment of the looming and horrifying spectacle of Black death, the related xenophobia, and the violence that persists and pervades, I am also enraged and exasperated by the ways in which the response to such assaults and acts of violence are being coded and recoded. In our discourse and in our actions, we must not only recognize the ways in which such forces are at work, but we must also hold accountable those in positions of power that continue to uphold these systems, enact violence against marginalized communities, and take concrete actions to make systematic and sustained changes.
Research also identifies the specific impact on members of historically marginalized communities, and as a result, we are aware that many in our community and beyond are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. If you need it, please note that the Wellness Exchange continues to be available for students and the Employee assistance services are available for other members of our community.
As an NYU community, we must certainly address our own issues, acknowledge the urgent work that still needs to be done, and take immediate action. Each of us, regardless of your role on campus, has the tremendous opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the institution and beyond. In OGI we remain committed to taking action, creating educational and learning resources to support individual and collection action, and continuing to work with partners across the University through the NYUBeTogether initiative. As a community, we can work together to learn from our research and history and build together. As author James Baldwin writes, "The world is before [us], & [we] need not take it or leave it as it was when [we] came in."
We hope you continue to take good care of yourselves and each other.
Lisa M. Coleman, PhD
SVP, Global Inclusion & Strategic Innovation
A Statement from Dr. Lisa M. Coleman on the Planned Scholar Strike (9/8/20)
Dear NYU Community Members,
We have been once again confronted with the shooting and violent assault of a Black person by police–Jacob Blake. We know this is yet another in a long list of people including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and others.
Scholars across the nation, in recognition of the needed action to address the ongoing violence and racism directed against Black people, have planned the #ScholarStrike–https://academeblog.org/2020/09/02/scholar-strike/September, 8-9. OGI stands in solidarity with the NYU faculty councils and their support of the #ScholarStrike.
In OGI, we continue to address Institutional and systemic racism, and remain committed to the much needed change and action steps required to address the systems that support ongoing violence directed toward people of African descent. As an NYU community, we must address our own issues, acknowledge the urgent work that still needs to be done, and take immediate actions for change.
For those members of our community who choose to participate in the #ScholarStrike, OGI urges leaders, schools, departments, chairs, and other departmental/unit leaders to be flexible and supportive of the choices made by individual faculty, staff/administrators, and students.
OGI continues to create anti-racism and other resources to support your conversations. We also know that the impact and burden of representation for BIPOC people are compounded by these incidents of violence. Please note that the Wellness Exchange continues to be available for students and the Employee assistance services are available for other members of our community.
We hope that all members of our community continue to take good care, and take action.
Statement from Dr. Lisa Coleman Regarding Professor Lawrence Mead (7/28/20)
Over the past months, media coverage of anti-Black violence, racism, xenophobia, and exacerbated inequities have increased with movements for justice spreading across our nation and globe. While such realities are not new and, for many of us, are lived day-to-day challenges and oppressions, we are in an important moment of opportunity to make transformational change together. Part of this transformation is to reflect on the important role that academia has played (and plays) in advancing equity and perpetuating inequity.
There has been much coverage on social media related to a recent article, “Poverty and Culture,” written by NYU Professor Lawrence Mead, prompting questions about who we are as an NYU community and what types of ideas and beliefs we support and promote. The University issued a statement as did the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) and Wagner Leadership. Quoting FAS and Wagner Leadership, we, too in the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation, “reject what we believe to be the article’s false, prejudicial, and stigmatizing assertions about the culture of communities of color in the United States.” We are further vitalized by the ongoing evidence of our need to create spaces for dialogue, education, and co-creation of community values grounded in equity and inclusion.
History and present-day has taught us that language, through scholarship and policy, can be used to codify and sustain legacies of racism and discrimination that are pernicious. And it is true that historically, academic research has also been mobilized to legitimize racist discourses. As a University and a community of Higher Education, we recognize the high-stakes relationships between academic knowledge production, public discourse, and policy-making in maintaining or transforming the status quo of disparity and inequity, and the importance of holding each other accountable to realize and sustain a more just and anti-racist NYU global community and across broader society.
OGI continues to work across the University and with our institutional partners to provide resources, take action, and educate about the individual, systemic assaults, and violence impacting so many of our communities. We must use this moment of opportunity to take action to make our communities stronger. We invite you to be part of an upcoming panel, Interrogating Racist Ideologies, Free Speech and Hate Speech: A Critical Conversation. Please RSVP to be a part of this important conversation.
Lisa M. Coleman, PhD
SVP, Global Inclusion and Strategic Innovation
Statement from Dr. Lisa M. Coleman on Protests and Anti-Black Racism (6/4/20)
Dear NYU Community Members,
We hope everyone is continuing to take good care of themselves, colleagues, and loved ones during these challenging times. We are all very aware of the ongoing media coverage highlighting the recent deaths and violence rooted in racism and anti-Blackness that have reemerged during the COVID-19 pandemic; and we also know that such oppression is not new, nor surprising; it is ongoing, deeply rooted historically, and woven into many of our collective systems and practices. The violence, degradation, and genocide faced by Black people is simply a fact of daily life for so many of us, and is epitomized in the tragic deaths of individuals including, but not limited to:
Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, Botham Shem Jean, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Akai Gurley, Oscar Grant, Laquan McDonald, Tulsa 1921, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Jordan Davis, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Stephon Clark, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, David McAtee, Emmett Till and countless others.
These global systemic and systematic patterns of racial aggression are often grounded in histories and legacies of state- and socio-politically sanctioned violence that is particularly focused on and targets Black and Indigenous peoples. This violence is frequently intersectional and directed toward marginalized and underrepresented peoples in the forms of xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and degradation; toward an array of people of color and multiethnic and multiracial populations; toward LGBTQ+ communities, in particular those who are people of color; and toward those who are socio-economically disenfranchised though systems of inequity. The stakes of these intersections are high, and the consequences of the aggression are often deadly. And, as our history reminds us and as our current stories and present day realities reflect, the indisputable disparities and inequities in our society have real impact and often lead to dismissal and denial, misrepresentation of facts, annihilation, and death.
Not only am I frustrated, troubled, outraged, exhausted, and deeply alarmed by the continuation and retrenchment of racism, the looming and horrifying spectacle of Black death, the related xenophobia and biased actions, and the violence that seems to be increasing, but I am also enraged and exasperated by the ways in which the response to such assaults and acts of violence are being coded and recoded. The insidious and ongoing violence that people of African descent have faced, as President Hamilton reminds us in his recent letter to the NYU community, gives rise to protest and to people taking action.
As many scholars and researchers remind us, what is also crucial to the discourse is that protest is not inherently violent; it is an expression of discontentment that has been used across locales, and social movements, across countries, and time. Within the context of Black resistance, protest, and social movements, there have been assertions of humanity and equality that disrupt societies that would seek to deny and destroy this very basic humanness and the right to exist. Again, we know from our academic scholars, globally and here at NYU, that social protest movements have led to great and essential change – as reflected here in the US with regard to civil rights for women and people of color in the 20’s, 50’s and 60’s; LGBTQ+ rights in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s; in South Africa with the anti-apartheid social movement in the 80’s; or today with the Black Lives Matter movement. People come together to express their dissatisfaction, anger, and fear about the violence and terrorism directed toward them, which is commonly sanctioned and upheld by powerful entities. In our discourse, we must not only recognize the ways in which such forces are at work, and where and how violence is being directed by powerful entities towards those on the margins, vulnerable and often less fortunate, and also where and when to take concrete steps to make systematic and sustained changes.
My team and I are doubling down on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in partnership with all constituencies to make lasting change at NYU that reflects the voices of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni (remembering that the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation (OGI) officially began its work just two years ago and continues to build on the work of so many across the University). As President Hamilton also expressed, we must continue to assess how we, individually and collectively, make NYU and our global communities more just, equitable, and inclusive; and then most importantly, we must all engage and sustain this work.
Across OGI, we continue to collaborate with leadership, students, faculty, and staff across the University to design and implement strategies, innovations, and resources that are responsive in serving those most impacted and, in many cases, most vulnerable. Members of the OGI continue to do the following work, in addition to efforts we have launched in response to Being@NYU. We are:
- Providing consultation and guidance across the University as individuals, schools, units, and departments meet within their local and global contexts to be responsive during this time, while we continue to work with the Global Inclusion Officers Council (GIOC) in responding to specific community needs;
- Advising University leadership on new and existing programs and resources; and, in partnership with Provost Katy Flemings’ team, tracking current progress and ramping up resources and supports for faculty in engaging students, staff, and faculty peers; and,
- Hosting virtual meetings with students, faculty, and staff respectively to provide tips and guidance for micro-dialogues around high-stakes issues, planning events and programs, and convening community groups to gather relevant and salient information for working and communicating with all community members.
Right now, we continue to navigate through a pandemic together, its heightened disparate impacts, and the compounded pressures on some members of our community. Currently and post-pandemic, we have opportunities to be and to do better, or not. Unless we decide to act and to intercede, the surge of violence directed toward people of African descent will simply go underground again, only to reemerge during another disruption, pandemic, flood, hurricane, or tornado. And, the inevitable, unfortunate, and not surprising outcomes will be more “I Can’t Breathe” deaths. So it is simple - it is up to us to make changes now, to change what we do, and how we take action.
Many have heard me draw upon these sentiments in the past, and now more than ever, I reiterate them here: “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together,” from Australian Indigenous writer and activist Lilla Watson; and from author and justice activist James Baldwin, "The world is before [us], & [we] need not take it or leave it as it was when [we] came in."
So I ask, what will you, we, do next? We in OGI are taking action, continually working across the University to hold one another accountable, AND to create opportunities for us here at NYU to do and to be better together. Please join us. And, again, please do take very good care of yourselves, your colleagues, and loved ones.
A Message from NYU President Andrew Hamilton (5/31/20)
Dear Members of the NYU Community,
Once again, we find ourselves filled with sorrow, outrage, and grief over a loss of yet another Black person's life at the hands of law enforcement that was tragic, unjust, and avoidable. There have been numerous appalling events over the last few weeks during an already difficult time—a pandemic. While it is hard to find words to describe the shocking ghastliness of the videoed last minutes of George Floyd's life on a Minneapolis street, with a police officer's knee on his neck, the poignant and unheeded pleas of Mr. Floyd and the bystanders—as in previous occurrences—remain haunting. His cries tear at our hearts, just as the knowledge that events like this seem to happen again and again and again rips not only at our conscience but at what we all consider to be a just and humane society.
This is one of those moments when reason and knowledge and discourse, which university citizens prize so highly, often doesn't seem like enough of a response. How could they be, when these deaths keep recurring, and when racism continues to manifest itself, even in our own community?
But reason, discourse, study, evidence, analysis—those are our tools, and events like the killing of George Floyd should not cause us to set them aside, but instead to redouble our exertions to use them in the cause of addressing racism, xenophobia, violence, and hate to underscore social justice, human dignity, inclusion, and peace. Many of our scholars already study the issues so evident in the Floyd video— inequality, race, and the inequities of the criminal justice system. Over the summer, I will be examining—and I am sure this will be true for many of you, too—how else our University might contribute to the goal of creating more just practices and systems. In the meantime, on behalf of the NYU community, I offer our University's sympathies to the family and loved ones of George Floyd, with whom we grieve for his lost life and the unspeakable suffering to which he was subjected, as well all of those impacted by this and the other terrible recent events. To deal with these types of issues while simultaneously navigating a pandemic that is giving rise to differential impacts on communities of color, and in particular, those of African descent, is especially oppressive.
Finally, my heart goes out to those in our own community who have been feeling overwhelmed by grief or apprehension because of fear for their own safety, their families, and loved ones. I want to remind you that NYU stands with you, and we have resources to help: for students at the Wellness Exchange, and for employees through Carebridge. And please also note that the Office of Global Inclusion (OGI) continues to plan events for the community.
In sorrow with you all,
Statement from NYU President Andrew Hamilton and NYU Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion and Strategic Innovation Lisa Coleman (5/29/20)
We stand in solidarity and support with those who oppose hate, ignorance, and divisiveness.
At a time when we are challenged and should be standing united against a new plague, the coronavirus, we continue to have to battle another ancient plague that seeks to divide us: racism, bigotry, and hatred across the United States. So, we were especially troubled and disappointed by a set of Instagram posts that appear to have emanated from members of the NYU chapter of a national fraternity. The sentiments expressed in these posts are abhorrent, at odds with our community’s values, and counter to the inclusive community we seek to create for everyone at NYU.
The matter is being investigated by NYU's Office of Student Conduct, and the national leadership of the fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon, has placed the NYU chapter on interim suspension while it investigates the situation. According to NYU's established protocol, we will also order the fraternity to suspend all programs and activities pending resolution through our own processes.
The fact that such an egregious incident happened within our own community is a painful reminder of the pervasive nature of the scourge of racism. We encourage all in our community to continue to utilize reporting resources like the Bias Response Line (BRL), and to avail themselves of supportive services like the Wellness Exchange (for students) and the Carebridge Employee Assistance Program (for employees).
We will not let this moment define or undermine who we are as a community. We stand in solidarity and support with those who oppose hate, ignorance, and divisiveness.
Statement of Solidarity during the COVID-19 Pandemic (5/6/20)
We, in the Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), hope that all of our community members, including their loved ones, across the world are well and taking very good care. The impact of COVID-19 has been tremendous in so many and varied ways. We, in OGI, want to clearly state -- we are troubled, outraged, and remain deeply concerned and alarmed by the racism, xenophobia, stereotypes, and biased actions that have and continue to be directed against people based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, SES, nationality, and/or citizenship status. We also are in solidarity with the many people who continue to have to work, deliver, care for, and support all of those who are sheltering in place.
Many people, companies, etc. are already experiencing a magnitude of challenges and there are additional impacts that have yet to be understood. History reminds us that ethnic bias, xenophobia, and racism are intensified during times of health and economic crises – the SARS and MERS outbreaks are other unfortunate recent examples. We also see the differential impact on those “essential” workers who must expose themselves daily in service to others to help others, maintain systems, structures and critical business continuity, and the like. Of course, this includes our health care workers and providers, police and public safety officials, and also our grocery, mail and delivery workers. Those who are classified as essential often have to work, and as a result, many workers and their communities are seeing higher rates of infection; and, rather than identifying the multiplicity of compounding factors impacting communities, some groups are inappropriately blamed for the deaths.
History reminds us of “who” is often in service to ‘whom,” and how disease and infection correlate with service and socioeconomic statuses. The confounding and intersectional impact on people of color and women are well noted and researched. From massive amounts of scholarship, what we know all too well is that the differential impact of disease continues and correlates with experiences of disenfranchisement, xenophobia, stereotyping, ethnic biases, marginalization, hetrosexism, sexism, and racism that disproportionately affect some communities more than others. Unfortunately, during this COVID-19 pandemic, we are again seeing historic and globalized patterns of discrimnation and disparities heightened. We continue to: work with our students, faculty and staff globally in partnerships and collaborations that highlight and deliver relevant research and co-curricular programs; to deliver more inclusive pedagogical tools as we all navigate the now; and to work with partners, alums, and all across our experimental platforms, campuses, and sites to offer programs and opportunities for us all to work together.
As we develop interventions, vaccines and the like, a new normal will indeed emerge. Let us hope it brings us together in ways that both acknowledge our differences and align our actions with those recognitions.
Let us begin by thanking all of those who continue to keep all of us (in whatever ways that might be) healthy and well and acknowledging the differential impacts on communities. First, as I stated earlier, from our healthcare providers; those shopping and delivering, and working in grocery stores; to the people who maintain our facilities and so much more, we are deeply indebted to you who do so much for the collective. Simply, THANK YOU. We very much appreciate all that you are continuing to do for all of us. Secondly, there is a differential impact on particular communities, and in OGI we stand in solidarity, and continue work on behalf of our students, faculty and staff to produce knowledge, pedagogy, and research for our essential, and often vulnerable communities.
Finally, in many ways it seems that the COVID-19 disruption has pressed at existing fractures in the very foundations of our global communities, and we are all experiencing disruption, across a continuum of differential impacts. We, in OGI, remain determined in the hope that across NYU, and by including our partners all of over the world we can strategically address the overwhelmingly evident disparities that the current pandemic and other such disruptions exacerbate; and in doing so enable us to create more equitable, more inclusive connections, systems, and structures to navigate the present and direct the vision of our collective future.
We at NYU are an ingenious and resilient community, global in our reach, teaching research and knowledge production; we are more than equipped to support one another; to forge new paths; to be innovative, nimble and entrepreneurial. By doing so, TOGETHER we will be able to create and sustain diverse, inclusive, dynamic, global NYU communities and beyond.
Again, wishing everyone, and families, friends, and loved ones the continued best,
Lisa M. Coleman, Ph.D.
Please see “Links to Resources” and “Previous COVID-19 Related Events” below for related resources.
Statement on Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia (4/20/20)
We, in the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation, are deeply concerned and alarmed by the recent upsurge of racism, biased actions, and the hostile sentiments directed toward Asian-identified people across our country and elsewhere.
We stand in solidarity with our Asian/ Pacific Islander/ American community members, and firmly repudiate anti-Asian actions and racist statements that have harmed members of our NYU, stakeholder, and partner communities. As many know, historically, ethnic bias, xenophobia, and racism have intensified during times of health and economic crises – the SARS and MERS outbreaks are other unfortunate recent examples.
Many across NYU and elsewhere, including our team here in OGI, have come together in support of Asian/ Pacific Islander/ American community members. We in OGI continue to partner with other offices to offer a list of additional resources, which will continue to be updated. Our aim in doing so is to provide some context, examples of statements against anti-Asian racism and bias, as well as a range of scholarly research on the historical roots of racism and xenophobia against Asian-identified people.
We thank the NYU A/P/A Institute for their leadership, and want to highlight such messages of support and resources that are circulating to counter the misinformation that has been mobilized to create environments of bias, hostility, and antagonism.
Click here for a list of resources addressing anti-Asian racism (including statements, scholarly articles, and responses)
Statement from NYU Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion and Strategic Innovation Lisa Coleman (3/12/20)
Hello NYU Community Members,
We hope that you are doing well and taking very good care during these challenging and uncertain times. Thank you to all those who are working tirelessly on the front lines, behind the scenes, and in every capacity to help those in need! We support you and appreciate all you are doing for all of us. Please remember there are also resources for faculty, staff and students, including counseling and opportunities to provide ongoing support for members of our own NYU community through these difficult times. I hope that each of you is practicing self-care.
We in the Office of Global Inclusion (OGI) have continued to work with our partners across all of our schools and campuses as we become acclimated to remote work and learning, and transition to virtual programming. In OGI, we are continuing our work to support the diversity and inclusivity of our community and hope that you will join us for one of our upcoming events or programs.
Let me also say a specific thank you to all members of our NYU community, and in particular members of our health care communities and volunteers who have and continue to provide such incredible care for those in need. It is heartening to see so many of us come together across NYU, NYC, and locations across the world, to support, comfort, and simply be there for one another during these often strenuous and demanding times. At this time, we are all experimenting and learning together in this so-called “new normal”, and we know we will make mistakes, so let us all do our best to continue to have empathy and be patient with one another as we navigate the next few months.
As part of our efforts in OGI, we, too, are engaging our NYU communities in new and innovative ways. We have received numerous inquiries, and are aware of some of our community concerns, as well as ongoing programming requests, and therefore, in the upcoming months, we will offer a range of resources, virtual events and online engagement and learning opportunities. As we experiment together, we know that we will all expand what we know, and learn new ways of being and communicating with one another that we can carry forward. We hope that you will join us online, and share with others, as we learn together how to build an even stronger and more connected NYU.
Please reach out if you have questions or suggestions about programming, or just want to say hello, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We thank all of our partners and collaborators for your ongoing partnership with and support of OGI. Lastly, we want to remind everyone to TAKE VERY GOOD CARE of themselves, their families, friends, community members, and loved ones. We very much look forward to connecting virtually!