Our community is reeling from another act of racism on our campus, and so many of us are feeling anger, grief, fear, sorrow, and exhaustion.
A photo appeared yesterday on social media that included two people in blackface and a racist caption. As we shared in a university statement shortly after the photo appeared on Snapchat, the image is repulsive and the caption is abhorrent. To be perfectly clear: the executive leadership of the University of Tennessee universally denounces hate and racism in all their forms.
Yesterday was the last day of Black History Month. Instead of coming together to celebrate people of color and the African American experiences that have shaped our great university, students, staff, and faculty gathered at the Frieson Black Cultural Center to process another act that threatens to divide us.
We are at a crossroads. Instead of accepting hate, we must denounce it. Instead of ignoring racism, we must name it and confront it. We must continue a dialogue through this moment to make Rocky Top a better place to be.
The two of us, along with our colleagues on the chancellor’s cabinet, seek to listen, learn, understand, and educate. We commit to being leaders and partners in the discussion and we ask for your participation. Join us Monday at 2 p.m. in Student Union Ballrooms B/C for a dialogue with the cabinet. All are welcome.
Wayne T. Davis
Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement