Reflections on These Chaotic Times

Dear BC Community,

As we return from the holiday break and begin a new quarter, we find our nation and communities in the midst of very dark and unsettling times.

Many of us were watching the debates in Congress yesterday over the counting of the Electoral College vote, when we and the entire world witnessed the violent storming of the Capitol Building by Trump supporters after having just been incited by the President to disrupt the Congressional proceedings. It was an insurrection with many members of this mob wearing and waving Confederate insignia and flags.

We were shocked and greatly distressed to see our hallowed halls and processes of democracy violently desecrated and interrupted.  Free speech, protests, and vigorous debate are part of America’s DNA; but violence and insurrection are unacceptable. Bellevue College condemns this surreal and dangerous attack on our Capitol and democracy.

The law enforcement response to the insurrection at the Capitol differs significantly from the response to the Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this summer. Black Americans suffer from violence, injustice, profiling, stereotyping, and so many forms of discrimination. Only a few days ago, authorities in Wisconsin announced that the police officer who shot a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin would not be charged.  And over the holidays, videos were released of a woman assaulting a Black teenager in a New York City hotel after accusing him of stealing her cell phone, despite no prior encounter or contact with the teenager. (She had left the phone in a ride hailing vehicle.) For Black America it feels like nothing has changed.

These are dark and unsettling times. So, what can we do individually, collectively, and as a College? I confess I don’t have any easy answers. But as individuals and as a college community we simply must continue on. Being politically informed and engaged. Upholding our democratic processes and institutions—as cumbersome and imperfect as they may be—and pushing harder for societal change addressing the stark inequities suffered by communities of color, especially our Black communities. As Congressman John Lewis said, “Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” Educating our students to be compassionate, thoughtful, engaged, and critical thinkers. And working to make our College a community where we celebrate and practice what we preach about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the passing of my father at the age of 93.  Our family shared texts about Dad/Grandpa, including his military service. He joined the U.S. Army months before the outbreak of WWII and was later part of the Normandy invasion. Why did he join to fight for a country that enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act to prohibit immigration from China? Why did Black Americans enlist to serve in segregated units, including the famed Tuskegee Airmen, despite the rampant discrimination and segregation throughout America? Why did Japanese-Americans volunteer to form the most decorated unit in U.S. military history even though their moms and dads and younger siblings were incarcerated in American concentration camps behind barbed wire with armed guards? And why did Native Americans enlist to fight for a nation that had confiscated their lands and herded them onto small reservations rife with abject poverty? 

Because they had faith and hope in the future of America. American society is full of flaws and shortcomings, much of which were laid bare for all of us to confront in the killing of George Floyd. But unlike many countries, we acknowledge our failures and strive to improve. We don’t give up. None of us is perfect—as parents, spouses, employees, administrators, political leaders. Let us reflect on these trying times and commit to being better and doing better in the things within our control.  

Current events highlight our responsibility and the importance of the work we are doing at the College to nurture and support the civic engagement of our students—the future of our democracy is in their hands.

Gary Locke

Interim President

These are stressful and uncertain times. There are resources available to you and I urge you to access them as needed:

Last Updated January 8, 2021