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Rachel Goldberg


The May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody, set off international protests, community conversations and, perhaps, individual examination of conscience about racial justice in America. We asked members of the DePauw community: Will you share your reflections on George Floyd’s death, the aftermath or any aspect of racial justice?

Rachel Goldberg is an associate professor and director of peace and conflict studies and supervisor of the Restorative Justice Mediation DePauw.

I write while my government takes actions to prevent federal agencies from doing training in the history of white supremacy in this country, using language that is frighteningly reminiscent of the McCarthy era. History showed that silencing voices is not commensurate with democracy, and I struggle, often, to understand what possible kind of democracy our leadership now supports.

However, my hope comes from the people I see working together to name and change the darkness gathering strength, and although it has been here long, at least, it is now harder to hide. I have been inspired by the leadership of amazing young, white community members who led the racial justice protests in Greencastle this summer. They worked respectfully with the local NAACP and the local police, and had significant support from both, which seems rare and speaks well of all three. It felt good to do something in the face of escalating violence and dehumanization in the United States, and it felt better to have many times the number of waves and beeps than the number of angry responses from passing cars.

I wondered if the work was really making a difference, but was told by the NAACP representative working with us that people told him they felt better about coming to Greencastle, that students of color said they felt better coming back to DePauw when they knew community members were doing this, and leading this. As a white person doing this work, I know my need to learn will be continuous, and ongoing. I am so troubled by the world I live in now, but my hope comes from how many white people are standing up, speaking truth and continuing to do so.

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