PAUSE: Reflection and Solidarity
The Connecticut College community gathered remotely June 2 for “PAUSE: Reflection and Solidarity” to share readings, reflections and moments of silence for those killed by racial violence, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and, most recently, Tony McDade and George Floyd.
“This space is offered as an opportunity for us to come together in solidarity and to hear students, staff and faculty members speak the truth about this nation’s history of anti-Black racism and the recent string of senseless killings,” said Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion John McKnight.
McKnight added that he believes in the power of words, but words are simply not enough. “This is the first of many important spaces we will need to create in the weeks and months ahead for continued reflection, education and community organizing,” he said.
“PAUSE” featured readings by poet Kate Rushin, whose iconic work, The Bridge Poem, was featured in This Bridge Called My Back, a feminist anthology of writings by women of color first published in 1981. Rushin, who was recently an adjunct lecturer and poet-in-residence at the College, recited an excerpt from her poem, The Black Goddess, which she explained was inspired by an experience she had at a writer’s retreat, during which she intervened when white attendees wanted to call the police on a black man experiencing mental health complications. Rushin also read an excerpt from Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
The event also featured remarks, readings and reflections by organizers Director of Religious and Spiritual Programs Angela Nzegwu and Director of Race and Ethnicity Programs Truth Hunter; as well as students, including Student Government Association President Daniel Varela ’22 and Umoja President Jitu Dribssa ’22; and faculty members, including Professor of Human Development Michelle Dunlap, William Meredith Assistant Professor of Psychology Judelysse Gomez and Assistant Professor of Computer Science William Tarimo ’12.
“We are here because there is an open wound of racism in our country,” said Nzegwu, who opened and closed the program. “I am angry and tired and heartbroken. And I don’t have the words to really express the anguish in my heart.
“I’m so thankful for those students, faculty and staff who have shared their anger, their pain, their perspectives and their hopes for what we as a global community and a Conn community can do moving forward,” she said.