MIT FACULTY NEWSLETTER
May/June 2020 | Vol. XXXII No. 5
Here we go again with the grief and outrage of being black in America. This time, we’re trying to survive two pandemics.
The following interview by Faculty Newsletter Editorial Board Chair Jonathan Alan King (JAK) with Dr. Bruce Walker (BW) was held on May 18, 2020.
Challenging Systemic Racism at MIT
Following the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman on May 25, protests erupted across the nation against the grotesque wrongs of anti-black racism and its long, tenacious hold on the American social structure.
In other years, this issue of the MIT Faculty Newsletter would be sitting in the laps of the thousands of parents, family members, and friends who would have attended Commencement.
From the Faculty Chair
“May You Live in Interesting Times”: The Year in Review
My term as Chair of the MIT Faculty began on July 1, 2019. To say that it has been an interesting year would be something of an understatement.
As a Black scholar of literary studies, I want to honor and thank all of the justice-seeking words that came before our 2020 ones – words that either vocally or in written forms of communication sought and fought for racial justice in the world and on this campus.
The following was penned for white America’s edification, so that everyone will understand why Black Americans have been furiously marching in the streets.
The following four messages speak to the tragic circumstances triggered by racism, the consequent chronic experience of fear, and the need for our community to recognize and address the continuum of racially inspired situations at MIT as well as those beyond.
Years back I was privileged to have a very talented African-American graduate student. She was awarded her PhD for a superior thesis in physical biochemistry.
We support Black Lives Matter and other activists protesting racism and police violence, spurred by the killing of George Floyd. We must stand with them, speak out strongly, and act with determination.
The Literature Section of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stands against racism and the policing policies that enforce it. We abhor the racial profiling and the violence that have resulted recently in yet more murders of Black American citizens.
In the midst of Covid-19’s unfolding and unequal death tolls and of ongoing police, state, and everyday violence against Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous communities in the United States and elsewhere, we in MIT Anthropology stand against racist white supremacy
We are deeply angered and heartbroken by the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, as well as the countless others who have lost their lives due to racist violence and police brutality.
After two months of sequestering researchers from campus to address health concerns for our community as the world battled the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, plans are underway to restart campus research operations.
I write to report on how the Faculty and Administration have together been evaluating the risks of new international engagements – and strengthening our processes for doing so – in the eventful months since my last report on this subject in the Faculty Newsletter in the fall of 2018.