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Facing Racial Injustice

June 1, 2020

Waves. I have come to relish the allegory provided by waves in my thirty plus years at Pepperdine. Created by our Lord in his design of the universe, waves are an enduring reminder of God's steadfastness and presence. Their beauty lifts my spirit and their sound calms my soul.

Challenges and tragedies also continue to roll upon us like waves. The Borderline shooting, Woolsey fire, and COVID-19 all have landed directly upon Pepperdine, and their impacts have and will continue to shape our future. Societal waves also continue to endure and have significant effects in our community. We have seen the horrific violence inflicted upon George Floyd. Mr. Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery all represent the most recent waves in our nation's history of racial violence and injustice against black people. Regrettably, these waves follow other waves of hatred and injustice that reside in our collective conscience and that sadly span not only days and weeks, but also years, decades, and centuries. As a free and civil society, we simply must be better and realize that black lives matter. As a college, we have a responsibility to stand up, speak out, and act as an agent of change in our community, city, and nation.

Seaver College stands proudly with President Gash, Pepperdine University, and all voices of hope and light in the world in condemning hatred and racial injustice in all forms. Each of us is a child of God, made in his image, and we strongly affirm the value of all people. As a college, we must face the difficult truth that injustice resides not only in the hearts and minds of people, but also in the systems and structures they create. We must continue to proudly declare our commitments and our efforts to advance equity and inclusion in our community and the world. We have made progress in these areas at Seaver College, but much work remains. Make no mistake—our collective work will be difficult, but the challenge it presents pales in comparison to the dignity of each member of our community. We must redouble our efforts to advance justice within Seaver College while we prepare students to reform justice in our nation and the world.

Students, we are concerned for all of you, but especially for our black students, at this time. We know that you are hurting as you try to make sense of senseless racism and injustice. You should know that your faculty and staff are also horrified and struggling. If you need us, we are here to listen and provide a voice of comfort and support. We will lean on each other as we join arms and move forward together.

Lastly and most importantly, as a Christian community, we must invite God into our efforts. As President Gash remarked, we know that God desires "peace and justice in our world" and that our Pepperdine community cannot rest "until there is healing and deep appreciation for the value of all of God's beloved." I invite you to join with me in praying for our people, our University, and our nation. May God embolden us to speak truth with love, and may he sustain us as we do the work of justice both at home and in the world.

Michael Feltner
Dean, Seaver College