A message from Black MBA students: “a time of grief for us”

In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Malaysia Hammond, 19, places flowers at a memorial mural for George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day. AP Photo: John Minchillo

Dear Haas Community,

This has been a time of grief for us, your black classmates, as we were reminded in multiple ways about the dangers of being a black person in this country.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery reminded us that our lives are less valued in this country. When we are killed, it is often without consequence. Our deaths are only seen as tragedies if it is determined that we have lived blameless lives. Our claims of racism are only taken seriously when they’re recorded.

We watched as a liberal white woman attempted to weaponize the New York Police Department against Christian Cooper, a black man, by feigning assault after he asked her to leash her dog. This reminded us that the people who perpetuate racism—and the people who suffer from it—are not limited by educational achievement (both had degrees from prestigious institutions), by region, or by political affiliation.

Finally, we are seeing that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting black communities: this is due to systemic disparities in healthcare access, historical discrimination resulting in adverse social determinants of health, and our outsized role in “essential” service industry jobs.

As black people, even being students in positions of privilege, we are deeply aware that we and our loved ones face a different set of risks than others. We also know that these incidents are not the only ones — they are just the ones that made headlines.

As black people, even being students in positions of privilege, we are deeply aware that we and our loved ones face a different set of risks than others.

We’re thankful for the acknowledgement, resources, and programming already provided by Dean Ann Harrison, our MBAA, the DEI Office, and the Program Office. We’re also thankful for the support that we’ve already received from our classmates and other members of our Haas community, through in-person messages, and on Slack.

If you are wondering how you can help, please consider the following:

  • Ask us how we’re doing. We may not want to talk much, but we will appreciate your concern for us. Please do not try to engage us in political or intellectual discussions at this
  • Read and listen to black perspectives on recent events — especially if you don’t like to talk about race in America. Understanding is an important step to empathy, and black perspectives on the meaning of this moment are easily accessible on the news and social media. For even more context on race in America, the Race Inclusion Initiative’s Resource Library has a ton of information.
  • Share with your friends and family what you learn. If you are angry, tell your non-black family and friends. Plan and organize how you’ll practice being an ally to the black people you know
  • Donate to an organization that contributes to racial equity. A few examples are below, but there are more.
  • The Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
  • Please see this article with suggestions on where to donate money to organizations that support the protesters’ cause. (This is not an official endorsement of these organizations).

Thank you,

Black Students at Haas