A Message of Solidarity

Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020

Dear Pace Community,

We are writing because silence is no longer an option. Not now and not going forward. This moment is an intersection that calls on us to reassess how we use our voices. To do justice to our work is to listen to those whose voices have been ignored, that need to be heard, and to add our voices alongside theirs. 

We recognize that silence can be experienced as harmful and complicit in oppression. It is important to say this now: Black lives matter. George Floyd’s, Nina Pop’s, Breonna Taylor’s, Tony McDade’s,  Ahmaud Arbery’s and so many others’ lives; they each matter. 

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu said. Neutrality and apoliticism are not acceptable courses of inaction, especially as a center for civic engagement. With this message, we hope to speak to our values and the work ahead for all of us. 

The Pace Center for Civic Engagement has a set of values that drives our work, one of which is community focus. We are an office that exists because of the authentic and caring relationships our staff and students build and maintain with community partners; the people who are committed to doing the work of eradicating marginalization within their communities. 

Within our value of  community focus, we uphold humility, accountability, equality, inclusion, and understanding. All of these are present as our country wrestles with racial injustice. We have an acute responsibility to support our students, staff, and community partners who are engaging in that work. 

We are not alone at Princeton in participating in this movement. On Friday, Princeton faculty members Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor made clear why the protests are happening and Omar Wasow offered critical context to the protests. Daily, in a different mode, Tracy K Smith offers 5 minutes of reflection.

This is a reflective time. This has been a reflective week. It is a time for recalibrating what we do and how we do it, for making new and stronger commitments on a journey towards justice. It is a time to not be silent.

Princeton has just graduated another class of outstanding students. The Class of 2020 is bringing the knowledge and experiences they have explored, learned and practiced into new communities, all over the world. We encourage our 2020 graduates to live into their sense of civic responsibility; to participate, learn, and to listen to the voices of the deliberately unheard. 

Please join us in thinking about this: We need to be anti-racist in our actions. In the words of Emerson College president Lee Pelton, “The most important question is: What are you going to do?”

Here at the Pace Center, we are committed to starting, continuing, and immersing ourselves in the necessary conversations surrounding racial justice. We are committed to supporting our students, who hold varying beliefs and values, in their journeys to learn and grow. We are committed to challenging and holding each other in times of tension and solace. 

We know there is much to learn and unlearn, and we hope you will join us in this painful, liberating, and necessary process. There are a plethora of resources being shared right now. Here are just a few; please utilize them:

In service and solidarity,
~ From all of us at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement