Statement from the Dean on Racial Injustice

Incoming students meet with residents at a transitional housing program and learn their stories.

Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

June 4, 2020

Like each of you, we at the Pardee RAND Graduate School are both saddened and angered by events of this past week. Personally, I am horrified by the cruelty of the police officers in the killing of George Floyd, by the vigilante murder of Ahmaud Arbery, by the tragic shooting of Breonna Taylor, by the deaths of transgender people of color like Tony McDade, by the continued and routine singling out of African-American men for police calls and traffic stops, and by the risk of violent death at the hands of those whose job it is to protect our communities. I also recognize that the sadness and anger I feel does not begin to touch the pain and frustration that many members of our school and RAND community feel now and have felt throughout their lives.

This past week has brought home to communities across the U.S., to include Los Angeles and Santa Monica, the disparities and injustices that have long been part of our society, and the legitimate frustration of those who have been pushed to the edge. In a commentary in Saturday’s LA Times, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes about the scourge of racism and the hope that we can move toward justice: “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible – even if you’re choking on it – until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant because it’s always still in the air.”

We at Pardee RAND, like those across the United States and much of the world, have been learning to live with the fear and uncertainty of a pandemic. We have also realized that, even if we are all “in this together,” the pandemic has had a greater effect on the poor and on communities of color. Although we have discovered our resilience and learned together to rediscover our ability to move forward in this “new normal,” we also recognize that we must look out for each other as we find our way and rebuild.

The events of this past week and all that have come before call on this strength, this reliance on each other, even more powerfully. And it calls on all of us to act, to do something.

Our Ph.D. program’s emphasis is not only on research and analysis but on leveraging technology in the public interest and working with communities. We educate and train our students to effect real and sustainable change for the better. We are a school of action as well as of research. Our students, faculty, and alumni are working hard to seek solutions to systemic problems: racial injustice, homelessness, poverty, health disparities, and so many other areas of inequality and inequity.

The call for social justice that has swept across our nation and the world over this past week demands that we listen, learn, and do more to “shine the light that reveals the dust” and to do the hard work of building a better world not just this week but for years to come. It is my fervent hope that our community will rise to the occasion and live up to our motto, Be the Answer.

Susan L. Marquis
Frank and Marcia Carlucci Dean
Pardee RAND Graduate School