Engaging as a Community around Systemic Racism

May 29, 2020

Dear Brandeis Community, 

I’m writing to you today to express my deep sadness and anger at the recurring examples of racist violence against black people across the United States, made worse at this time by the inequitable impact of COVID-19 on our communities of color. Simply, our black and brown students, faculty and staff are carrying the extra weight of systemic racism in addition to the pandemic’s challenge. Right now, this burden is acute.

One response is coming together. Though we are physically apart right now, it is important to have a collective place to share, learn, express ourselves and support one another. 

I would like to invite every member of the Brandeis community to two events next week where we might renew our bonds and engage around the impacts of systemic racism:

The Heller community will host an online (and timely) conference on the topic of racial justice called the Sankofa Community Conference: Co-Constructing Racial Justice through Life and Work. This conference will take place as follows:

Dates: Tuesday, June 2 and Wednesday, June 3
Time: 12:30 p.m. each day
Place: Online. Information and registration are available on this form.

In between these two conference sessions, I will co-host a live, interactive Zoom gathering called “Coming Together to Face Systemic Racism” where we can connect, reflect and challenge ourselves to directly engage the topic of systemic racism to ensure that the lived experience of Brandeis University reflects our deepest values of diversity, equity and inclusion. This event will take place as follows:

Date: Tuesday, June 2
Time: 5 p.m.
Place: Online. Note: For security, you will need to register for this gathering with your Brandeis email address. This webpage offers information about accessing Brandeis Zoom.

If you need resources and support at this time, please visit the “Support at Brandeis” website.

Equity and respect for people – regardless of the color of their skin, religious beliefs or background — are among our most important foundational values at Brandeis. It is my sincere hope that you and yours are as safe as possible and that you can join us in learning about, discussing and combating systemic racism. Please contact me directly if you have any questions.

As we strive together,

Mark Brimhall-Vargas
Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion