Statement by Cal-Bridge Director on Recent Events and Systemic Racism

Dear Cal-Bridge and CAMPARE scholars and other community members,
I am writing on behalf of the Cal-Bridge leadership to express our outrage and disgust at the racist killings of recent weeks, and to call on all of us to stand in solidarity with the Black community and all groups who are suffering from racially motivated violence which takes place in communities across our nation. Unchecked violence by police and civilians against the Black and other oppressed communities in our country is a problem for which we must all shoulder the blame, and which we all have to work to solve—together. It is all the harder to countenance such events in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that is difficult for all of us, but which is causing disproportionate suffering and loss among those who are Black, indigenous, people of color, and poor.
The Cal-Bridge family stands with the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered while jogging in Georgia by two white men.  We stand with the loved ones of Breonna Taylor, an essential worker during this pandemic who was killed in her home by police. We stand against the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer who knelt on his neck, while three others watched and assisted, as Mr. Floyd choked out the same final words of another slain Black man, Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.” We stand with Christian Cooper, who was the victim of a woman's attempt to use the police as a weapon against him while he pursued his passion for birdwatching in New York’s Central Park. These are only the most recent atrocities that echo other names: Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice. We must not allow the scale and frequency of these outrages to cause us to lose sight of the individual tragedy each of these names represent.
We must also remember the violence against Black women, gender non-conforming and trans people, many of whom have been murdered in recent weeks, months, and years, often overlooked by the mainstream media. Within the last week Tony McDade, a Black trans man, was murdered by police in Tallahassee. He is one of many other trans and gender non-conforming people who have been victims of hate crimesthe majority of whom were Black transgender women. All of these acts of violence are symptoms of the broader ongoing hate and discrimination also expressed towards Latinx peoples, Asians, Muslims, and other groups that are viewed as outside by “tribes" of people who consider themselves superior.
Each of these incidents reflects dozens, even hundreds more that are not captured on video or otherwise exposed. Many of these incidents make it to the criminal-justice system and still result in no charges being filed or unjust verdicts. The systemic racism that allows the continued murder of our Black compatriots is real and we must confront this injustice together. We must pledge to do what we can together to create a society where justice is actually worthy of that name. In particular, those of us who have the privilege to live our lives without fear of random violence by the police or vigilantes have to step up and become part of the solution. Otherwise, we are part of the problem.
Almost all of us in this community have one form of privilege or another, and some of us, myself included, have almost every form of privilege our society offers. It falls on those of us with privilege to use that privilege to uplift and support those without it. It is sometimes difficult to know how to do that. One thing I have done is to try to educate myself about the facts concerning racism in America. A few of my favorite books on this topic include: Seeing WhiteWhite FragilityA Colony in a Nation, and The Meritocracy Myth.
In addition, here are some resources, provided by Nicole Sanchez, a former CAMPARE scholar (and honorary Cal-Bridge scholar!) who is now an astrophysics PhD student at the University of Washington, that you might find useful:
We know that many of you have very strong feelings about all of these incidents, which for many of you feel very close to home. We want to encourage you to reach out to your Cal-Bridge mentors and to me, as Director of both Cal-Bridge and CAMPARE, if you want or need any support or just want to talk. Even more importantly, we want you to reach out to each other for support. Our hope is that the Cal-Bridge and CAMPARE scholar communities will be a resource and source of strength through a very difficult time.
With sadness, outrage, and love for you all,
Alex Rudolph
Director, Cal-Bridge
Director, CAMPARE