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A note from CAS Department Head: Denise Solomon

In the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, we lean into difficult circumstances. We understand that complex challenges need persistent deliberation, that different perspectives need a seat at the table, that speaking truth to power needs power to listen. Despite that commitment, and considerable expertise in the art and science of communication, words are hard right now. Nobody wants platitudes, and everything sounds like a platitude.

So, if you are white, let’s ponder some questions instead.

Are you crying today? Then cry every day, because every day people who live in your community, in your state, in your country, and on your planet suffer the sometimes fatal consequences of not being white. Are you angry today? Then be angry every day, and use that anger to effect change – change in how you enact racism, allow racism, fail to see racism, and benefit from racism. Are you frightened today? Sit with that fear and imagine that you experience it every day, as though each day might be the day that walking through your neighborhood, bird watching, going for a run, or a minor traffic stop ends with your mother or father, your brother or sister, or your child killed for not being white.

While some of us ponder these questions, let us also recognize members of our community who experience depression, anger, and fear as a more regular part of their lives. In our thoughts, words, and actions, let us affirm our commitment to our Black students, staff, and colleagues at Penn State University and the community of State College.

In the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, we know that people need to lean into difficult circumstances. Where do we start? We’ve learned in the past few months that we can muster considerable fortitude when threatened by a virus. Let’s recognize racism as the deadly pandemic that it is – one that maims even when it doesn’t kill. If we can change the very fabric of our day-to-day lives to “flatten the curve,” we can certainly make progress against racism. Let’s act as though all our lives depend on it.