We are writing to you because our country has a problem. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed with fierce clarity the systemic inequality that affects every aspect of life, from who is most likely to be an essential worker to who is most affected by unemployment to who is in the greatest danger of dying from the virus. This urgent wake-up call has been compounded and amplified by the recent police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and too many other Black men and women to name.
This loss of life, safety and opportunity is not coincidence; it extends back to the founding of our country. Racism is everyone’s problem, and we must work together to solve it. Many in our community recognize the need for action and have reached out to ask where they can financially support our Black UW students and create a path for systematic change at the University.
After leadership conversations with the Black Student Union and Black faculty and staff, listening and learning where support is needed most, the UW has created the Black Opportunity Fund through the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity. We share this fund with you as a way to make an impact on the lives of our Black students, faculty and staff. We also encourage your support of and investment in Black-led nonprofit and community-based organizations that are critical to the health, growth and success of the Black community.
The UW launched the Race & Equity Initiative five years ago to deepen our commitment to creating a just and equitable world — to confront bias, transform institutional policies, accelerate systemic change and weave this value throughout everything we do. There is still much more to be done. As a public university, we are part of a system that has historically caused harm to marginalized communities, and together we must further our efforts to create a safe, supportive and equitable institution, community and world.
The Black Opportunity Fund has been established to acknowledge the harm that systemic racism has on the Black community, to take action to address these inequities and injustices, and to fund a strategic agenda that meets immediate and ongoing needs of our Black students and faculty.
Your support of the Black Opportunity Fund will make a difference in addressing the systemic racism and inequity hurting the Black community and increase opportunities for Black UW students, faculty and staff to thrive. And when we do that, we will all be better for it. We thank our community for reaching out, and we hope you’ll join us with your voice and actions during this critical time for our nation.
Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology
Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity
University Diversity Officer