Message of support for Emanuel AME Church

Shock, anger and deep sadness are among our nation's responses to the Emanuel AME Church murders last week. Charleston churches as well as congregations and people across the country have stood strongly with the Mother Emanuel congregation to demonstrate principles of their faith. As they celebrate the lives taken away, they are refusing to show hatred or encourage further violence.

After this latest national tragedy involving fatal, race-related acts, as with earlier tragedies, it may seem as if we at Cornell are outside the circle of people directly affected, but the past year's incidents belong to each of us and all of us. Our country's history of division and violence directed against African-Americans is part of our personal history. We also share the opportunity and the responsibility to shape the future in a more positive way.

I urge our community to not be complacent. While there are many ways to make things better, developing greater understanding is a critical first step. We should not assume that we know enough about race in America or racially motivated violence. Some topics may make us flinch, but it is our duty to learn more and to consider the way forward. Paying close attention to current news will help take us there. Libraries and collections are a rich, accessible resource. The John Henrik Clarke Africana Library and other Cornell libraries have especially strong materials, including online lectures on historic and current topics.

We can and should act to influence positive change. We can seek out relevant courses, panels and faith-based and other discussions, and celebrations of African-American culture. What we experience will change us. All of us can actively participate by organizing events, creating art, teaching, conducting research, engaging in advocacy and much more. Let us remember to pay close attention to our own thoughts and actions, and ask, "What more can I do?"

It is our Cornell heritage to support diversity and inclusion, both when we celebrate our differences and commonalities, and when we confront difficult challenges as members of our campus and home communities and citizens of our nation.

David J. Skorton