The World is Not Totally Upside Down
Yesterday, I was heartened by the thought-provoking Let Freedom Ring program conducted at RIT to celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and to further inform and motivate our collective efforts toward anti-racism and social justice. Our own Joshua Rashaad McFadden, assistant professor in the College of Art and Design, was the plenary speaker. His work combines high-level artistry as a photographer with a strong passion for civil and human rights. Joshua Rashaad’s message and photographs were challenging, but left me hopeful that by accepting his call to fight for freedom, and by working together as a community, we will make our society and nation better.
Hopeful messages are especially needed as we prepare for the inauguration tomorrow of our new president, Joe Biden. Heavy security restrictions will be in place as a result of the deplorable violence at the Capitol Building on January 6. Our thoughts and prayers have been with families who lost loved ones and with others who were injured. Those who incited and carried out the insurrection are being held accountable. It will be a long while before the law enforcement and political processes are completed, but it is heartening to see that our democracy is working. Perhaps the ultimate answer was articulated by Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
If we are going to have an uprising, let it be an uprising of integrity. At RIT, the pursuit of goodness — in many shapes and forms — drives us. We must strive for a just world and a more caring community. More than ever, we need to explore, create, discover, and innovate. It’s what we do to build a better future.
As we prepare to begin a new semester next week, I urge our community to stay united. As we keep a watchful eye on the national scene, let’s also prepare to continue fighting our common enemy, COVID-19. You all were magnificent in this endeavor last fall. The challenge will be even greater this semester, due to the higher prevalence of the virus, both regionally and nationally, and because we will be mostly indoors for the first two months of the semester. RIT will have far more testing capability this semester, but we still will be relying on you.
As we launch the start of the spring semester, let us do whatever we can to protect one another. Let’s start by being good citizens and respecting the democratic process. And let’s Wear masks, Watch our distance, and Wash our hands, showing that we care about others in addition to ourselves. While we’re at it, let’s add a fourth W – Willpower. Let’s do whatever it takes to keep our community safe, respectful, and inclusive. We all know what to do. Let’s succeed at the highest possible level.
Yours in Tiger pride,