The George Floyd Memorial outside Cup Foods at Chicago Ave and E 38th St in Minneapolis, Minnesot...The George Floyd Memorial outside Cup Foods at Chicago Ave and E 38th St in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Credit: Lorie Shaull

Dear Friends,

Just over one week ago, George Floyd died handcuffed and helpless under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer while three other officers stood by and watched. This event has set off protests and uprisings in Minnesota, across the country, and across the world. The US is currently experiencing its most significant civil unrest in half a century. All of this is taking place against a backdrop of a global pandemic and a striking economic downturn, dual crises that, while being felt by all, have had a disproportionate impact on people of color. While the killing of George Floyd (and many others) may be the spark that ignited the protests, their root causes are much larger: centuries of racism, discrimination, and White supremacy.

College of the Atlantic is unequivocally opposed to racism and white supremacy. We condemn the actions of the Minnesota police who killed George Floyd, we condemn police everywhere who have provoked and attacked peaceful protesters, and we stand in solidarity with those protesting around the world.

To our Black community members, your lives matter. To our Brown community members, to all people of color, to our Indigenous community members, your lives matter. With the position of privilege my whiteness brings, I cannot fully imagine what you are feeling now. But I want you to know that I see you. I will listen to and believe you. I am so grateful you are a member of this community. The college stands with you.

People are, understandably, reacting to this moment in different ways. Some are joining in protests, here and elsewhere — I saw many of you among the crowd of nearly 400 at the protest this Sunday in Bar Harbor. Others are sharing information, donating to anti-racist and direct aid organizations, listening, and learning (a big thank you to the students who have shared resources). Some are spending time in quiet reflection and prayer. Some are trying to focus on work and finish the term. It’s okay to be confused, scared, angry. It’s okay to not know what to do. It’s okay to have a hard time focusing. It’s okay to not be okay. If you are struggling, reach out: to your teachers, advisors, the student life staff, to me, to anyone. The college supports you.

While we focus on events in Minnesota, and Georgia, and Kentucky, this moment also leads me to reflect on our own college community. COA can and must do better at making this college a welcoming place for everyone. COA can and must do more to diversify our student body, faculty, staff, and trustees. COA can and must teach about a greater range of lived experiences and explore with greater depth the historical and institutional racism that has led us to this moment. We have made progress in these areas, but we need to be bolder and move faster. I hope you will join me in this work, because it will take all of us.

The murder of George Floyd has surfaced trauma, anger, and fear for many, all amidst the disorientation foisted upon us by the pandemic. Please be kind and generous to each other. Look after each other. And be kind and generous to yourselves.

COA President Darron Collins ’92, on behalf of the President’s Cabinet