We, the members of GEO, the Graduate Employees Organization at the Univerity of Michigan, write to express our shock, grief and anger at the horrific events that transpired on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. We are an organization of black, white, Asian, Latino, Arab, and Native American graduate students; we are men and women. We are religious, atheist, and agnostic; working, middle, and upper class. We are Americans and citizens of other countries. All of us have been shaken, as individuals and as a community; all of us are experiencing a loss of our sense of safety and security, as well as incredible uncertainty about the future.
There are a number of things that we are certain of, and we want to express them to you, our colleagues, students, instructors, and coworkers. We know that every single community in our country, and many more around the world, has been shaken by these events. We know that every single person in this country, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation, has been shocked and wounded by the ongoing tragedies. We know, even without numbers, that all kinds of people died in Tuesdays attacks, all kinds of children are without parents. And all kinds of spouses are without partners.
Unfortunately, we also know that in our rage and pain, it is tempting to search for someone to blame and to identify that someone as an outsider to be located and eliminated. We know that it may be the path of least resistance, given the recent history of our country, to identify Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Arab members of our communities as a target for our anger and our fear. Already these communities have been targeted in violent and racist acts, all the while still reeling from their shock, fear and pain as Americans.
Actions and words of violence and hatred against Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Arab members of our communities cannot be tolerated or allowed to continue if we hold any serious hope of healing from this tragedy and surviving as a people and a nation. GEO, therefore, unequivocally condemns these words and actions: we will not tolerate them on our campuses, or in our classrooms and offices, and we commit ourselves to confronting and challenging these behaviors in every instance. In so doing, GEO is choosing to work for a nation and a future where all members of our communities are comforted and protected in this time of great loss.
There can be no courage in the absence of fear. We have seen and heard of many brave and heroic responses to our national tragedies. Let ours be among them.
Cedric de Leon, president
Graduate Employees Organization (GEO),
University of Michigan
AFT/MFT & SRP Local 3550, AFL-CIO