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Valuing Black Lives Initiative

To: All faculty, staff, and students
Re: Valuing Black Lives Initiative
June 25, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

We have collectively experienced a trying year, seeing drastic changes in how we lead our daily lives. Simultaneously, we have witnessed a global demand for the acknowledgment and dismantling of systemic racism. This pandemic made the very real impacts of racism difficult to ignore and we must use the energy of this past year to persist in this fight.

UC President Drake recently announced that Juneteenth, having been declared a federal holiday, will be observed systemwide on June 28, 2021. We share President Drake’s sentiment that we should use this time to reflect “on our nation’s history, the horrors of centuries of bondage, and the difficult road from liberation to equality”.

We know that the declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday carries no weight if it is not accompanied by real actionable change. As we prepare for this reflective day of rest, we share with you the culmination of the work we have been doing in this past year, which is outlined in the Valuing Black Lives Initiative: Annual Report 2020-2021. This report provides details about the accomplishments of the Valuing Black Lives Task Force, the Valuing Black Lives Dashboard, and the framework for how we ensure that this is an ongoing commitment towards valuing Black lives on our campus and combatting anti-Blackness. This report carries with it our promise of accountability and transparency and provides context for the Valuing Black Lives Initiative and what it entails.

Chancellor Muñoz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Camfield developed a memorandum outlining their response to the Valuing Black Lives Initiative Administrative Co-Leads Report. In this memo, you will find the institutional commitments of the Valuing Black Lives Initiative. The memo provides short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, the units responsible for the oversight of each goal, as well as the financial commitments being made. We invite you to save the date for a Townhall from noon - 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 9 where we will discuss the Valuing Black Lives Initiative and receive your feedback. This work not only requires accountability and transparency, but also constant collaboration.

We know that the fight against systemic racism is arduous and ceaseless and each step towards progress marks another countless number of steps that need to be taken. We remain hopeful that this past year of critical work sets the foundation for us to continue to grow UC Merced into a campus whose core tenants are of equity, justice, and inclusive excellence.

Always in community with you,

Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.
Gregg Camfield, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Dania Matos, J.D.
Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer
Pronouns: she/her/ella
Robin DeLugan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Academic Senate Liaison