A Community Dialogue Responding to Recent Tragedies, July 13, 2016

In response to the recent killing of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa, including the suffering of all their families and all those injured, MIT held a Community Dialogue on July 13, 2016.

Invitation to the Community Dialogue from MIT President Rafael Reif

“I believe our leading civic institutions have a responsibility to speak clearly against these corrosive forces and to act practically to inspire and create positive change.”
— MIT President Rafael Reif

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Ed Bertschinger, Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO) 

I begin with a poem by Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States: @ the Crossroads—A Sudden American Poem.
“Let us celebrate the lives of all
As we reflect & pray & meditate on their brutal deaths

This could be the first step
in the new evaluation of our society This could be
the first step of all of our lives”

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Kester Barrow, Area Director for MacGregor House in Residential Life Programs

Given President Reif’s words, please keep these two challenges in mind as we engage with each other throughout today’s conversation:

I challenge you to pursue deep social questions.
I challenge you to define for yourself, why does understanding these social issues matter?

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DiOnetta Jones Crayton, Associate Dean and Director, Office of Minority Education

Clearly, feelings of helplessness, hurt, anger, and rage have been expressed here today, feelings that many of us in this room have been concealing and holding in for far too long. These feelings are genuine and in many ways unavoidable and certainly undeniable. We need and deserve time to grieve. Life, however, has taught me that if we stay in a state of helplessness too long, it can and will cloud our vision, our perspective, and our reality. Because in reality, we as individuals and certainly we as the MIT community, are not helpless.

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News Office coverage of the event

At open forum, MIT community discusses recent U.S. tragedies. More than 600 attend event emphasizing commitment to “stand together against injustice, intolerance, and hatred.”

Read the News Office article