Statement on anti-Black racism and violence, from the interim dean of the School of Architecture & Design

Dear KU Architecture & Design Community,  

Today, I write to you with a heavy heart. It is impossible to see what is happening around us without being overwhelmed by a sense of loss and concern for our children, friends, communities, and nation. As I hope that you and your families are well and safe, I know that many of us are not. Our hearts are aching, and we are all searching for answers, actions, and help in a world that looks very chaotic for many of us.  

As a society, we have been enduring violent racist acts for a long time. The harassment of Christian Cooper while birdwatching in Central Park, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in a South Georgia neighborhood, the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor while sleeping in her home in Louisville, and the murder of George Floyd while pleading to breathe on a street in Minneapolis are just a few examples among countless acts of violence and anti-Black racism that have become a part of our everyday lives.  

The racism and discrimination we see each day have become even more painful during this global pandemic that has seen a much higher rate of infection and death among communities of color, particularly African Americans – the very same people already burdened by a history of prejudice and systemic racism. At a time of rising tensions in international relations, many others in our community are as well seeing a rise in distinctive forms of vile harassment and discrimination. There seems to be no end to this trend. We are all getting very tired. We are done with messaging without actions.  

I know in my heart that, as humans, we all feel the urgent desire to help even when we do not know exactly how. At this very moment, a good place to start is by acknowledging who we are as human beings. Please know that every act of sympathy, humility, decency, kindness, and respect can have powerful effects.  

Another good place to start is by acknowledging who we are as designers and architects. Through acts of design we have the unique ability to shape our everyday practice, our representations of space, and our spaces of representation. Let us treasure our unique ability and work together to create a more equitable world that is inclusive of all people.  

Together, let us break down the silos that separate us, encourage thoughtful debate, and protect the dignity of everyone in our community. Together, let us stand for justice and embrace a culture of love, respect, and dignity for all.  

With much love and hope,  

Mahbub Rashid, 

Interim Dean