Reflecting on Racism, Humanity and the Tragedy in Charlottesville

Written by Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
August 14, 2017

What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend was deeply disturbing, shocking, appalling and painful to witness. We cannot condemn strongly enough the white supremacists who marched on the city and across the University of Virginia campus, their actions and the racist, hate-filled views they espouse. Everything they represent runs counter to the values we uphold at Seattle University and our commitment to a welcoming, inclusive and equitable society.

Our common humanity calls on each of us to speak out against racism, violence, prejudice and hatred. Our common humanity calls on each of us to stand in solidarity with all who share our belief in building a just and humane world. And our common humanity calls on each of us to treat all people from all walks and backgrounds with dignity and respect.

I ask you to join me in keeping those who lost their lives, those who were injured and their families and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. They include Heather Heyer, a young woman who was maliciously and senselessly killed, and two Virginia state police officers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Unfortunately, the events in Charlottesville are just the latest and most visible acts of racism and hatred across our country. White nationalist movements have deliberately chosen to target college campuses, where diversity and inclusion are widely embraced and racism is unequivocally denounced. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 107 incidents of white supremacist activity on college campuses during the past academic year of 2016-17, mostly in the form of leaflets and posters. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which also tracks incidents on campus, reports an equally alarming volume of cases.

Clearly, we have work to do to create a culture that fully respects the dignity and worth of all. We will remain united as we move forward together to do so.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.