June 1, 2020
Office of the Dean
Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-8925
Dear Dean Angela Evans,
Thank you for your thoughtful words of reflection and leadership during a time of despair due to Anti-Black racism, police brutality, and the ongoing global pandemic.
As the Executive Board of LBJ Policy Alliance for Communities of Color (PACC), we are deeply saddened, hurt, outraged, and frustrated by the unlawful murdering of Black individuals at the hands of law enforcement and white supremacists. This past week, many people, including LBJ students, have demonstrated their frustration through social media posts and protests.
LBJ students have realized that the social movement we are witnessing is necessary to affirm the humanity and dignity of Black people around the world. Thus, students have spent their time and resources funding the NAACP and legal bail funds, providing rides to protests, checking in on other students of color, particularly Black students, and putting their bodies on the line at Austin protests this weekend. We have seen that The LBJ School admits students who are willing to fight for equality and speak up when there are injustices. However, the reality is that while many students choose to speak up, many others are not aware that their silence can perpetuate the systems that promote racist and bigoted ideologies. This rhetoric does not reflect the current state of public affairs and we are hopeful that it will not reflect the values of The LBJ School.
As a highly ranked US Public Affairs school, it is imperative that our school leads the movement of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. This includes, explicitly calling out Anti-Black racism and racism in all forms and training public affairs professionals to make equitable decisions in their workplace.
At this moment, current and past LBJ Black students are struggling with fatigue from past and recent racial traumas and current traumas such as microaggressions, that stem from attending The LBJ School. To create a more cohesive environment for students of color and encourage more students of color to attend LBJ, we are asking that the administration challenge itself to do the following:
- Firstly, meet with PACC students to discuss the racial climate at LBJ and further action which can be taken to improve the student experience for people of color.
- Create and promote anti-racist programming/webinars/educational series that addresses the entire LBJ Student Body outside of the work that the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy is already doing.
- Provide a diversity, equity, and inclusion mini-course for incoming students during orientation.
- Immediately implement the suggestions made from the faculty and students on the Faculty DEI Committee.
Our school has made tremendous strides under your leadership. We hope that the school will continue to make progress towards creating a more inclusive environment for students of color, through condemning racism and establishing a precedent for producing public affairs professionals committed to social justice. The measures that we have suggested are what students of color want to see implemented. We believe that if these suggestions are taken seriously, individuals at The LBJ School will benefit by becoming more conscious policymakers who can leverage their knowledge of racism and inequality to make better domestic and international policy decisions.
The PACC Executive Board