Absorb. Honor. Attend.
The Women’s Center stands in solidarity with the Black community and honors the life of Daunte Wright, the 20-year old man who was shot and killed by a police officer outside of Minneapolis on April 11. We reiterate our commitment to the needed collective action to ensure justice and safety for all.
We also hold concern for the well-being of those in our community experiencing the trauma that racism inflicts. Last summer, our colleagues at the Women’s Initiative curated these lists of helpful resources for wellbeing as well as for learning and taking action. And we urge all who are engaging in activism to practice the self-care that will sustain these efforts for the duration.
We stand with our students and colleagues engaged in anti-racist work, echoing their calls for justice and equity. We affirm that Black lives, Black dreams, Black perspectives, Black experiences, Black futures matter.
Absorb, with care.
Understanding trauma may help you to process violence in the news or to support others in your life in doing so. To that end, we can offer useful insights provided by our counseling team who are always willing to share their knowledge. Now, as always, it is important to take a trauma-informed approach in responding to social injustice.
Traumatic events bring loss, whether that’s the loss of a sense of safety, the loss of a sense of control or the actual loss of a family member or friend. Managing our own reactions to such losses, even those that emanate from events happening far from where we are physically located, is crucial. We must take care of ourselves so that we can respond without creating further harm.
Here are two brief articles that members of our team have written to help you process traumatic events:
Every one of us has multiple responses in times of stressful news, emotionally, socially, and politically - and will continue to do so as we move forward. It is important, however, to seek help if your reaction is interfering with your ability to function in daily life. Resources that are available during the COVID-19 pandemic include those listed here.
Racist/racialized violence is a systemic, society-wide evil. The constraints within which we are living and working during the current pandemic may put some of the actions in activists’ established playbook out of reach. But these constraints might also provide clarity about an effective way for allies to respond.
For all of us seeing from afar the current impact on the greater Minneapolis community, this moment provides us with the opportunity to practice a pivot in our response and one that is important because “good politics start locally.” After we sit with the injustice, absorbing what has happened, might we next honor those who lost their lives by identifying the injustices and problems in our own respective communities and putting into action concrete plans to correct them? Might those of us who work for social justice – or aspire to - ask ourselves, How can I find a voice that I can use where I am to speak up for the human dignity of all? How can I intervene when I see something happening?
While you may currently be far from Grounds, you are not far from what you have learned in your time at UVA: how can you translate what you have learned about bystander intervention into a technique that meets the needs of your current community? Remember learning the three Ds? There are actually 5 Ds: Direct, Distract, Delay, Delegate and Document. All of these are legitimate strategies, used singly or in combination, to resist and interrupt racism when you see or hear it.
Speaking out on social media is one way you might engage but it is not a substitute for attending to injustice in other ways. This is a systemic social ill we’re confronting. Concrete action to dismantle it is what counts.
We stand, as always, with all of our students, alums and colleagues working to create a respectful culture on Grounds and across the world. And we want to remind all UVA students, as well as the faculty, staff and parents across the University community who care about them, that we are here to provide support and information about available resources.