A Message From Joianne Smith, Oakton Community College President

Like many of you, I have been overwhelmed with sadness, anger and horror as we have witnessed the brutal deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the racialized aggression against Christian Cooper — the latest incidents in a long and painful history of racial injustice in our country. The protests in cities across the country are reflections of the deep pain, anger, sadness and fear caused by decades of racial injustice — pain that our colleagues and students of color experience every day of their lives. As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, "A riot is the language of the unheard." We acknowledge that the voices of minoritized communities have often gone unheard. We are committed to listening to these voices.

Oakton's mission, vision, and values and our commitment to equity will continue to guide us as we strive to be agents of change toward achieving racial justice. Our commitment requires a call to action to make the necessary changes to achieve racial justice. It takes all of us, the entire Oakton Community, for real, meaningful change related to racial justice to happen. To this end, I call for all of Oakton's faculty and staff to engage in professional development opportunities that challenge us to understand how racial injustice and inequity negatively impact our college community, especially communities of color, and examine our personal biases as well as our systems and structures that have historically disadvantaged these communities. We will continue to have critical conversations that bring together diverse groups of students, faculty and staff to listen to and learn from each other. We will ensure our curriculum provides an honest reflection of the history of racial oppression in our country. Through our Wellness Center and Office of Access, Equity and Diversity, we will create safe spaces to process our feelings and provide support.

In the midst of the pain and sadness, there are signs of resilience and hope. Our collective pain demonstrates our care for each other, our desire for a more just world and our commitment to do the hard work of creating racial justice and healing.

I invite you to join me in the difficult, but sacred work of creating a community where we all can safely work, learn and live.

In community,

Joianne Smith, Ph.D.
Oakton Community College President