President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Speaking up and out in the face of injustices

May 29, 2020

Dear Reed community,

This week, the tragic death of George Floyd weighs heavily on my heart. The unspeakable video images of Mr. Floyd’s last moments bear witness to a reality faced by black people and people of color every day in this country: racism is a constant threat, and daily activities like driving, jogging, shopping, and simply walking home pose danger. Mr. Floyd’s death follows other widely publicized (and innumerable unpublicized) racist acts that have taken or diminished the lives of black people and other people of color. Communities of color are experiencing a heightened sense of danger and exhaustion, resulting in more public and widespread expressions of pain, suffering, fear, and outrage. I am united with you in grieving the unconscionable acts of violence that stem from racism.

I came to Reed because Reed has made the commitment to becoming an ever more inclusive community, including putting into practice the goals and aspirations reflected in our diversity and anti-racism statements. Today we recommit ourselves to those goals, both by examining our individual actions and by interrogating and reforming our institutional structures, policies, and practices to mitigate the harmful effects of racism on our community—past and present.

In addition to these most recent and explicit acts of racism, I also acknowledge the less visible but persistent and pervasive forms of racism that people of color encounter on a daily basis. While I offer my words of support and solidarity, I am keenly aware that they will provide little comfort and are not enough. We as a community, nation, and world must continue to work for change and speak up and out in the face of injustices, particularly those injustices that we have agency to interrupt.

My heart goes out to you all.



Audrey Bilger