By Suresh Hanubal
The protests that have rocked the United States since the May 25th murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by an officer with a history of abuse complaints, stand as testimony to the ceaseless and unending horror of police violence towards African Americans in this country.
We have been here before. In Los Angeles, in Ferguson, in Baltimore, in New York City … , and now in Minneapolis. The righteous indignation of citizens fed up with a police force that brutalizes them at every opportunity.
We have seen this before. With Tamir Rice, Rodney King, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor … , and now with George Floyd. The cold-blooded murder of American citizens by the very people sworn to protect them.
This time should be different. This time has to be different. We cannot go on as a country, every week hearing of a new black citizen murdered by our nation’s law enforcement officers. We cannot go on shaming aggrieved citizens, for expressing their righteous frustration with authorities in the aftermath of such incidents.
As a predominantly white institution located in one of the poorest and most diverse counties in the country, Fordham has a responsibility to speak up in the face of this incessant barbarity. Further, as a university that claims to embody the Jesuit mission, it would be the height of hypocrisy if it did not do so.
Unfortunately, and as any student of Fordham undoubtedly knows, our administration has failed time and time again in this regard. From the drafting of public safety emails that make it seem as if our surrounding neighborhood is a threat, and thereby that our neighbors are a threat, to the fact that despite being located in the Bronx, that it’s demographics more accurately represent that of Fairfield County, Connecticut, Fordham has failed in many respects to convey the Jesuit values it readily asserts are its mission as an academic institution.
This is important, as the biases gained from communication from authorities, and in the homogeneity of one’s social and academic circle, are the same biases that lead time and time again to the senseless murder of Black Americans.
Although Fordham has no responsibility in the murder of George Floyd, as a predominantly white institution in a diverse area, and especially as a purportedly Jesuit institution, Fordham does have a responsibility in ensuring that none of its graduates go on to perpetuate the racist acts that Derek Chauvin or Amy Cooper have in recent days.
In this vein, we implore Fordham to do the following:
- Adopt an antiracist curriculum as part of the core. An easy way to do this would be to add a required class solely concerned about the Bronx, Fordham’s often tense relationship with it, and the sordid history of systematic racial discrimination in this country and the city we call home.
- Change the language employed in Public Safety Emails. Far too often these alerts serve as an impetus for students to joke and stereotype about the neighborhood we call home.
- Expand recruiting efforts in minority communities, and give further incentives for minority students to attend the university. As a school in New York City, our student body should represent the demographics of the city we call home.
- Expand and improve outreach efforts with surrounding Bronx communities, and heavily encourage, if not require, students to take part in said efforts.
- Heavily reform Public Safety to recruit minority officers, and in light of the current police brutality situation in this country, and of his reluctance to make a statement in response to this tragedy, for John Carroll (the head of public safety) to resign. As an officer who was on duty during the assassination of MLK Jr. it is reprehensible that he has made no statement on the matter.
- Follow the example of the University of Minnesota, and completely disengage from employing NYPD as Fordham employees, or at Fordham events.
As Fordham often ignores student requests for change, it is unlikely that any of the aforementioned requests will be heeded. However, in order to make our voices heard as students please consider signing the following petition, which asks that Fordham make a public statement on the murder of George Floyd. Additionally, there are a number of ways that you can help yourself. If you can afford to, please consider donating to the following organizations:
And countless others that are fighting for justice for our nations embattled black and brown communities.
With this, we call for Fordham to reform, and for our nation to reform. It is unacceptable for us to continue on the same path we have tread for so many decades. No more George Floyd’s.
Edit: Immediately after the publication of this piece, Fordham did in fact issue a statement on the murder of George Floyd. However, it should be noted that while composed of alluring prose, it is short on specifics and commits Fordham to no specific actions in light of this tragedy.