Dear Aging Studies/Gerontology Students,
As chair of the Gerontology Department, I write to acknowledge the pain our Black students are experiencing, to express my support, and to call Aging Studies/Gerontology students to action.
The weeks since George Floyd’s senseless killing have given me pause to reflect on his life and the lives of so many – Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castille, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and far too many others whose lives were tragically and unjustly cut short. I have also been reflecting on the ways in which our country has systematically denied Black people access to the full experience of freedom which they are due. As I observe the pain and share in the anger that overflows in our nation, I constantly come back to the question of what I can do.
I have been reflecting this summer on my own (mis)education and (mis)understandings. Together with faculty and staff in the Gerontology Institute, I have also been talking about how to dismantle the racist systems that exist in our country, including those within the field of Gerontology. If you are looking for ways to be engaged, I encourage you to reach out to me and others in the Gerontology Institute. I also encourage you to be on the lookout for newsletters such as these and other communications from the Gerontology Institute as we organize and begin to publicize fall programming.
I know that many of you are engaged in antiracist and social justice efforts and critical reflection already and you have my deepest respect. Others of you are newer to these efforts. As educators, faculty in the Gerontology Institute recognize that this work can be painful and uncomfortable and we are committed to creating space for critical reflection in our classrooms, be they virtual or in person.
As the summer draws to an end, I hope you are finding meaningful ways to contribute, time to reflect and engage in self-care, and opportunities to surround yourself with the people you love. I look forward to connecting with you again soon.
Elizabeth Bergman, Chair Gerontology Department