June 5, 2020 – Statement of Solidarity with Protesters Demanding Justice

As members of the CIRTL AGEP community we are filled with grief and anger at the legacy of violations of the civil liberties of Black members of our communities, the impacts of which have only been amplified by the recent and violent deaths of Mr. Ahmaud Abrey, Mr. Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, Ms. Breonna Taylor, Ms. Nina Pop, Mr. George Floyd, and most recently Mr. Tony McDade. We are incensed that Black members of our communities, like Mr. Christian Cooper, continue to experience daily and relentless acts of physical, emotional, and psychological violence and harassment.

These events only make more salient our team’s work to advance equity and inclusion within higher education by contributing to the dismantling of systemic oppression and racism. Such actions benefit all graduate and postdoctoral scholars, but are absolutely essential to supporting our scholars from minoritized identities and marginalized communities. Now more than ever, we pledge to remain steadfast on our course to drive meaningful change within the academy. We recognize that the gravity of our current circumstances requires us to take further immediate actions. Consequently, as a team, and as individuals, we commit to (1) listen more intently to colleagues and communities that call for and work toward changing systemic racism, (2) speak up and push against practices that endanger any member of our communities, and especially the Black, Brown, and Indigenous members, (3) become more familiar with anti-racist literature and resources that can inform how we can better contribute to diminishing racial inequalities, and (4) seek and seize additional opportunities to support and serve as active allies to our colleagues, graduate students, postdocs and other community members from minoritized identities and marginalized backgrounds. Though it is naive to believe that incidents such as these will never happen again, we commit to contributing to a future where this may become possible.

Our words simply cannot do proper justice to all that we wish to convey so in their place, we share the following poem, Running for Your Life, in unity with the poem’s authors, and all those who are mourning, filled with outrage, and are taking action to make our communities more just, equitable, and safe for all to breathe, run, and live regardless of the color of their skin and their identities.

Black Lives Matter.

In community and solidarity,

Marilyn AmeyMonica J. Carter
Luis A. ColónAnna De Cheke Qualls
Kamla DeonauthJeffrey Franke
Bennett GoldbergWen Guo
Thelma HardingSara Xayarath Hernández
Sarah Chobot HokansonOmari W. Keeles
Barbara A. KnuthColleen M. McLinn
Judy MiltonRudi Motshubi
Chelsea NobleCraig Ogilvie
Rosemary J. PerezSarah L. Rodriguez
Panos ShiakolasRachel A. Smith
Arnold Woods III

The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the signing members of the CIRTL-AGEP Alliance and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation and respective individual institutions.

Running For Your Life: A Community Poem for Ahmaud Arbery

What is the color of air?
Who owns the right to breathe?
Why are we so afraid of each other?
When will they come for the brown men I know and love?
What was his crime?

Is there justice for all In the land of the free?
Or only those who are
White like me?

What is the vaccine for this “pandemic”?
I wonder where my baby is?


White-hot hate
left its stain
on a blackened
Georgia road.

My country, ’tis of thee … we must raise the skeletons
buried deep in our past,

“Give it time,” White Fragility says.
Nothing moves forward
until this hunting stops
a knife on our collective tongues

Please stop running
from the truth
and listen:

This death was everyone’s fault.
This is on you, young America

We must accept the lingering shame and guilt,
the anger and mistrust inequality have instilled,
apologize for the damage commit to sow a future with humility.

While we await such a day,
Let us say your name:
Ahmaud Arbery,
Ahmaud Arbery,
Ahmaud Arbery.

I am sorry that we all know your name now;
That we will forget it far too soon.

I am sorry that the only song they know to sing for you is tragedy.
I am sorry that all I can do is write this poem

I am sorry that your life has become a metaphor:

a house being built, down the road,
He liked to mark its progress,
dream of building one himself,

Eyes shine through windows,
Like raccoons in the woods at night,
Their faces twisted, pink, and hot,

He knows these trees, and their strange fruit,

Of thee I sing.

after hatred’s song is spilled
out into the streets
and across soft green lawns
it cannot be unsung

After bullet leaves chamber
it cannot be recalled

My heart rages for another mother’s loss of her son
for the blindness

for the cover up
for the tears not enough to wet the graves

of so many lost for the sake of insanity:

a black babysitter caring for white children
a black professor opening his own front door
a young black woman sleeping in her own college lounge
a black teen knocking on a door to ask directions

his first words: Don’t Be Afraid
a black boy jogging in the morning

There is an essential difference between running

and running for your life.

I remember my mother, the night
she got down on her hands and knees
on the frayed rug,

Tired of the facade of racial progress

Pain too hard to bear,
fists pumping out the beat,
“I can’t take it anymore.”

I don’t fear the pick-up trucks
It’s only the dogs sometimes, when there are two or more, and mean,
Who charge out onto the road, hair raised along their backs, barking and growling.
Coming up behind me.
Looking for a chance to bite.
My deepest fear is that I am black and that I will be murdered for it.

They are young men
simply going about their lives

Never, ever again, should a dream be deferred,
should a parent have to explain

Jim Crow still lives in the hearts and minds
of white men,
should a young man look over his shoulder
at a gun and run only to lose this race.

Never, ever AGAIN.
We do have a choice
and it is an easy choice.
We fight to rise above this sin

We fight to be a world of one

We fight for our humanity
because after leaves fall they cannot be reattached
to the tree

because broken hearts still beat

because Justice peeks her head
around the corner.
And hope the door doesn’t slam.

This community poem was created using submissions by:

Ameera Pearsall, Milwaukee

Catherine King, Omaha, Neb.

Chelsey Brunelle, Glendora, Calif.

Kathryn Ing, Los Angeles

David Calvin, Charlotte, N.C.

Angela Snyder, Borden, Ind.

Mary Battle, Augusta, Ga.

Kim Klugh, Lancaster, Pa.

Jade G, Concord, Calif.

Laura Tate, Cortland, N.Y.

Natalie Wilkinson, Newburgh, N.Y.

Marilyn Johnston, Salen, Ore.

Mary Donahue Brown, Pittsford, N.Y.

Mary Carter, Nashville, Tenn.

Skooter Fein, San Francisco

Isabelle Hart, Naples, Fla.

Tony Miller, Wellman, Iowa

Barbara McCarley, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Jennifer Greenow, Scotia, N.Y.

Jessica Bartley, Portland, Ore.

Laura Vinton, Estero, Fla.

Jose Salabarria, Houston

Kara Kral, Twin Falls, Idaho

Lisa Stolar, Trenton, N.C.

Bambi Vargo, Kirtland Hills, Ohio

Meriel Martinez, Tampa, Fla.

Clare Cranford, Paso Robles, Calif.

Rhiannon Schmidt, Houghton, Mich.

Rachel Olatunji, Wilmette, Ill.

Diana Torres-Guillén, Madera, Calif.