In May of 2020, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier saw police activity and then saw a man in pain.
She stopped, pulled out her cell phone, and began recording. During the trial, Frazier expressed, “When I think of George Floyd, I see my father, my brothers, my cousin, my uncle. They are all Black. It could have been them.”
I write this after the Minneapolis jury convicted a local police officer in Floyd’s death. As a wife, mother, aunt, and grandmother of Black boys and men, I live in fear for their safety. This fear doesn’t go away, though I was a peace officer, former assistant district attorney, police commissioner, and one who understands the dynamics of excessive force. I have seen law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to protect our communities, and I have seen law enforcement officers represent the worst of what humanity has to offer.
This year has been particularly painful for our communities of color. Fueled by anti-Asian scapegoating, a surge in violent crimes continues to cause fear and anguish in our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. We must stand up against racism in all its forms—and we must create space so that the voices of those marginalized can be heard.
I am hopeful as I look to the Class of 2021, and to our graduating scholars from The Achievement Award Program (TAAP), who embody a deep commitment to serving others. We are honored to share reflections from TAAP Scholars Pedro De Anza Plascencia ’21 and Yuner Lu ’21.
The Cal Alumni Association launched Alumni Making a Difference, a virtual series of conversations between campus leaders and alumni navigating constant uncertainty and pain. The conversations highlight how service to others can bring about change and help with our own healing. Our mission, now, is the true work of healing: to protect the vulnerable, serve those in need, and shine the light of hope on our path forward.
Each of us has a role to play. Each of us can, and must, be the light that casts out darkness. In the first episode of Alumni Making a Difference, Dacher Keltner, faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, gives voice to our charge: “We need all of our alumni to keep building our strength and our place in the world.”
Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79
Graduating Alumni Scholars from The Achievement Award Program join our new Class of 2021 alumni. | Charles Poloka