June 11, 2020
Dear Mason Korea community,
The protests in the US against the violent death at the hands of the police of George Floyd and other members of black and brown communities have reverberated globally, including here in Korea. These deaths are terrible in themselves and manifest the unacceptable degree to which racism and racial inequality beset the United States and leave unfulfilled our nation’s promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
The hope of a university such as George Mason is to be a place in which everyone can flourish with the respect and support of diverse students, faculty, and staff. George Mason’s international campus here in Korea is one expression of that hope. We are built on the value of multicultural perspectives, global connection, and a multiethnic and multiracial community.
Like many in the US today, we are prompted by these events to recommit ourselves here at Mason Korea to realizing this vision. One way to do so is through education and dialogue. To that end, Mason Korea will sponsor a community discussion on the US protests and the events and conditions that have led up to it. It will be held online at 9:30 pm on June 19th, a day known and celebrated as “Juneteenth.” Juneteenth is a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the freedom of the enslaved in the US. Please save the date and time and look out for more details soon on the speakers and format. You may also be interested on this resources page on racial justice created by George Mason University's Office of University Life.
We are fortunate at Mason Korea to have faculty and programs that focus on questions of justice, protest, conflict, multinational and multicultural perspectives and peace-making. In addition to participating in the discussion on the 19th, I invite you, if you are a student, to consider some of the classes we are offering in the fall that can help us all think through how we continue to pursue the freedom, just treatment and flourishing of all. These include
Indeed, because a large share of the coursework at Mason Korea is rooted in the humanities and social sciences and/or global perspectives, many of your courses will provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss questions of justice, conflict, community and the understanding of difference. I hope you will take the opportunity to engage in serious discussion and learning around these issues. I also hope you will participate in events that highlight the multicultural community we enjoy at Mason Korea, as well as explore the tensions that can sometimes come with that community, and how we address then.
I realize as well that some may be experiencing significant mental anguish because of the events in the US. Please remember that you can seek help from Student Affairs or from our Counselor Jan Lee. Members of the Mason Korea community from abroad also need to know that Korea can revoke a foreigner’s visa for participating in any kind of protest.
Juneteenth has a second resonance for us today. Though it celebrates the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, it does not mark the date in 1863 on which it was issued, but the date on which it was read in the most remote of the US slave-holding states over two and a half years later, to free the enslaved people of Texas in the aftermath of the Civil War. The promise of liberty and justice for all continues to arrive too slowly, too late. I hope you will join with me and the rest of the Mason Korea community to help bring that hope closer to its realization.