Reflections in the wake of the Chauvin trial, and on the eve of Earth Day

April 21, 2021

To the Rausser College community,

Yesterday, a jury in Minnesota found Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd. Nothing can mitigate the horror of Floyd's murder, the grief of his family, or the loss of too many Black and Brown lives to police brutality. One trial alone will not atone for the past, or ensure a just path ahead. A just world is a world in which George Floyd, and other victims of police violence, would still be alive. Nonetheless, at least in this moment, the sense of hope and possibility for lasting change are in the air. 

As we reflect on the news of the verdict, we also note that tomorrow is Earth Day. The modern civil rights movement and the modern environmental movement arose side by side in the ’60s and ’70s. Looking deeper into our history, we can see that some of the same forces gave rise to both movements: the unchecked waste and destruction from our consumption of natural resources, and the unchecked exploitation of targeted groups of people. In the ensuing decades, the rising awareness of environmental injustice—and the slow course of corrective action—helped us understand how so many persistent injustices in the U.S. are rooted in systemic racism. 

Lasting solutions for a sustainable future must address historic inequities and the stark inequalities of today, from local communities to communities across the globe. We will need more food—healthy food—available to all. We must protect our natural heritage, for all to enjoy and not just a privileged few. And we urgently need clean energy, clean air, and clean water for communities who have borne the greatest environmental harms of a society running on fossil fuels.

There is work here for all of us, in the College and beyond. For all who have suffered through the emotional and personal turmoil of the last year, reliving the pains as you followed the trial, we hope this is a moment of relief. We are committed to building a community of belonging, and know that we have much to do as we move forward together.

David Ackerly, Dean
Isha Ray, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion
Lee Borrowman, Assistant Dean and Chief of Staff

Read Chancellor Carol Christ's statement 
Read UC President Michael Drake’s statement