Commissioner Santiago’s Message to Staff on Ahmaud Arbery Murder Verdict

Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago
November 29, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

I hope you had time to rest and spend time with loved ones over the weekend. As we return, I want to acknowledge that last week was difficult for many of us, struggling to process the realities illuminated by the trials in Wisconsin and Georgia. While there is relief that those responsible for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia were held to account, I know that events leading up to and including the trial have been painful for many of us. We all know the only true justice would be for Ahmaud to be still alive and thriving. This case, along with the troubling outcome of the trial in Wisconsin, reinforces the grip anti-blackness, racism, and white supremacy continue to have on our country.

Our campus colleagues have acknowledged this moment as well. President Birge reminded the MCLA community:

These are not isolated events but part of centuries of racialized violence in this country. As we return from a restful holiday and time with our families, we are reminded that the Thanksgiving holiday is, for many, especially Indigenous communities, a day of mourning for all that has been violently taken since European colonization—beginning on this land with the Wampanoag of Pawtuxet.

To our Black colleagues, please know that we see you. I know this unrelenting violence and harm is unbearably agonizing and exhausting.

We have always known the importance of our work toward racial equity and justice in our educational system, and we are reminded of its imperative daily. We know committing to antiracism in everything we do is ultimately about the lives of our fellow human beings.

I challenge ourselves and each of you to recommit to working alongside one another toward the vision of our agency embedded in our values—toward a culture of racial equity and justice. We each personally recommit to ensuring this agency is a place where every person feels fully valued, regarded, and respected as their whole selves. And where we work for that to be true across our system of public higher education.

Thank you for all that you do toward that goal.

Carlos E. Santiago