On May 25th George Floyd died whilst in police custody in Minneapolis. Tragically this was not an isolated event, with countless black lives having been lost and families destroyed over hundreds of years through systemic racism that continues to destroy peoples lives and the fabric of society.
Although this may seem somewhat remote from the world of mathematics we inhabit, it is clear that over the years mathematics has not been immune from racism (as well as other forms of bigotry and sexism); for example I spent 21 years at UT Austin in a building named after R L Moore (and remains so). I believe it is vital that we all continue to strive to improve the environment and inclusiveness of the mathematics community, and I am committed to ensuring that, at the very least, this happens in our department.
Small steps have been taken in the department with the setting up of the diversity committee (who I wish to thank again for all their hard work this year), statements on our website and in future on syllabi regarding inclusiveness and behavior, and I am committed to having a diverse and inclusive group of faculty, students and staff in the department.
More broadly it was worth bearing in mind the words from President Leebron's recent message:
"We must therefore join with our own expressions of concern and sympathy and outrage. We must work to build an inclusive environment, one that respects and values people from different backgrounds. We must take part in efforts to reduce the deadly discrimination and racism that is an unstaunched wound in our national fabric"
The events since George Floyds death have been traumatic, and yet also possibly sow seeds of optimism that real change can finally take place. I am no expert in these matters, others more qualified than I can speak far more eloquently on these issues, however, I believe it is important not to stay silent and to have made this statement.
Links to the statement of President Leebron and AMS President Jill Pipher are included below.