Our mission is simply to educate on diversity, enhance equity, and embrace inclusivity.


Sandra Y G Jones

 

Statement from the Director of Student Diversity & Inclusion

Ms. Sandra Y. G. Jones, LMSW
Director, Student Diversity and Inclusion
Valdosta State University

What can really be said to adequately speak to the atrocities of social injustice, police brutality, racism and division we currently face. Like the simple refrain of a familiar tune, these are not new challenges, simply different names in a new dispensation of time. From Slavery to Reconstruction; Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement, The Civil Rights Movement to now Black Lives Matter…the call to action has remained consistent. From articles written in newspapers and periodicals to hashtags on our social media timelines; we must unequivocally, unapologetically, move past our discomfort and do the work necessary to effect change.

Robert F. Kennedy stated, “Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.” Rosa Parks challenged us to not be afraid to take the necessary first steps to bring about change. Failure only comes as a result of tolerating the intolerable, not seeing what is obviously visible, and being intentional in our complacency.

So, what do we do? (1) We must be willing to open our eyes and ears to what is going on around us. We cannot commit to being vigilant without awareness. You are in the best place to do that…an institution of higher education. This is a time in your life to question everything, engage in rigorous debate, and determine what you care deeply about. (2) Develop an appetite for inviting new perspectives, versus seeking out information that confirms what you already believe. That is space where real growth and awareness happens. (3) Tell your truth, even when it hurts. Everyone’s voice is necessary and should be heard. This is not the time to joust regarding who is more oppressed. Anytime inequality exists in any form, the alarm must sound and ring loudly. No one can remain silent in this moment; not the oppressed or the bystander. (4) Lastly, commit to courageous action. James Baldwin said it best when he said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Commit to courageously assume the access to the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Be willing to lift your voice when any group’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is jeopardized. Be bold in your action to hold others accountable who forgo these rights for everyone.

Together we can not only stand for change, we can ignite it!