This message was shared with the faculty, and staff of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa on June 18, 2020.
Aloha UH Mānoa ʻohana,
I hope and trust that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I know that it feels like such a long time has passed since the sudden move to working, teaching and learning from home. Through your dedication and perseverance, we successfully navigated the last two months of the spring semester and began immediately to prepare for a fall semester unlike any we have planned for in our careers. Throughout, we have all adjusted to new norms to keep ourselves and our families healthy.
But even as we were adjusting to those new norms, we witnessed in the starkest and most painful terms the many manifestations of institutional racism and its role in determining whether someone lives, thrives or dies in this country:
- The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor brought to the fore the brutality and hatred experienced by African Americans in ways that have brought our country to its knees. These events challenge us as individuals and institutions to stand up and affirm that Black Lives Matter and to advocate for and implement the changes necessary to make our campuses and our communities safe places for us to work, learn and grow together.
- COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Asian Americans; from a lack of access to basic healthcare, testing and treatment, to disparities that lead to comorbidities across these populations. As we together work toward safely reopening the campus in the fall, we must do so in a way that respects, protects and supports those who are the most vulnerable among us.
I am so inspired by the statements from businesses and institutions, and the sheer number of individuals participating in protests and raising their voices across the country and around the world. Action must follow these statements to make real change in this country and in our communities. How do we begin this change at UH Mānoa?
Earlier this year, we established the UH Mānoa Commission on Racism and Bias, charged with examining how we have responded to racism and bias at UH Mānoa and how we can together move forward. While this is a difficult time, and in so many ways the world has changed since we formed the commission, the timing and mission of this work is more urgent than ever. We need to be proactive, honest and fearless in order to address these issues head on, for the sake of our campus community.
So, while many of us are working tirelessly to safely open the campus in the fall, we will also lean into the hard work of institutional change needed to ensure that we live up to our mission and the promise of our future.
I look forward to pursuing that work and that change with each one of you.
Michael Bruno, Provost