Dear Students, Colleagues, and Southern Maryland community,
This morning we celebrated the College of Southern Maryland’s 61st Spring Commencement virtually. I watched from my living room, wearing our Men of Excellence cord, which honors our graduates who are men of color. Commencement is a ceremony that represents hope, and in the names of the graduates that scrolled across the screen, I saw the potential for a better world.
I am the mother of sons. This week, I have wept for African-American mothers and their children as I’ve watched gut-wrenching news stories and social media posts displaying the persistence of racial injustice in our nation. My white privilege has shielded me from the worry that African-Americans feel daily. No one should live in fear. No one.
A college education is commonly understood as a ticket to a better life, and at the College of Southern Maryland, we embrace our mission to close the equity gap, so all learners can improve their lives and the lives of their families. Racism is not welcome here. Intolerance is not welcome here. Bigotry is not welcome here. But people are welcome here. Our black learners. Our white learners. Our Asian learners. Our Latinx learners. Our LGBTQIA learners. Everyone, but right now we especially want our black learners to know our commitment to them is unwavering.
Students, you matter; your safety matters. The College of Southern Maryland values you, wants you to learn, and hears your voice. Our work is an investment in the future, our shared future, and we need you to improve that future. Frankly, my generation has done a poor job of addressing racial inequity, and I feel ashamed that so little real progress has happened in my lifetime. We must do better; I am committed to that.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our world in a fundamental way that we do not yet understand. We do know that we will have to rebuild our world on the other side of this, and this generation has the opportunity to create a different world in a way that no other generation ever has. I want you to do better than my generation, to create a world in which no mother has to worry about her children because of the color of their skin.
The College of Southern Maryland stands ready to do its part; our values call us to make our world a better place.