A Statement by the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University Condemning White Supremacy

Our hearts are heavy to see that black and brown communities across the United States, which have already been bearing a disproportionate loss of life during the global pandemic, continue to suffer from the terror caused by the white supremacy embedded in the history and institutions of our nation.

We mourn George Floyd. We mourn Ahmaud Arbery. We mourn Breonna Taylor.

How many more must we mourn?

It is painfully clear that so many beloved members of our community, whether students, faculty, staff, or alumni, could be—and in fact, have been—targets of violence stemming from systemic racism.

As a School focused on peace and conflict resolution, it is our core mission—and our core duty—to bring about a more just and peaceful world, whether by educating the next generation of peacebuilders and changemakers, conducting research into the causes of conflict and its resolution, or working with communities across the world to implement ethical and equitable policies and programs that will enable the transformation of our societies.

We condemn the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the police personnel who were supposed to serve and protect them and their communities. We condemn the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by white civilians who felt entitled to attack him on his daily jog—an attack that echoes the long and brutal history of racial terror and lynching in the United States. 

We also know that condemnation alone will not do the work that is needed to dismantle systems of racial injustice. As our students learn in their coursework, racism is a multi-faceted phenomenon. It weaves through every aspect of our lives, from our interpersonal relationships to our workplace cultures to our halls of power—and yes, it weaves through even our classrooms, too.

It is our firm commitment as a School to undertake an ethos of research, teaching, and practice that prioritizes antiracism and opposes oppression. That means continually engaging in reflective scholarship and practice that contemplates our own place in this system while lifting up the efforts of our community members working to dismantle white supremacy.

In the coming days, we will share resources spotlighting the work of our community members on racism, white supremacy, and injustice. To begin with, we want to highlight the work of the John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race, which is led by Dr. Charles L. Chavis, Jr. here at the Carter School and provides a wide range of resources for dealing with racial trauma and promoting racial healing.

The Mitchell Program will be running several activities in response to the events in Minneapolis and across the United States over the next few weeks. We invite our community and the broader public to learn more on their website.

We will also seek to listen to our own students, staff, and faculty of color about their own experiences at Mason and beyond. In the meantime, I encourage the public as well as our students and colleagues to please be in touch with me regarding how our School can undertake a truly antiracist approach to further our core mission to empower individuals and communities across the world to realize more peace and justice in their daily lives.

We are ready and committed to doing this work together. 

Alpaslan Özerdem
Dean, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
Soon to be the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution