I understand that many in our community are deeply upset regarding some of the content of the presentation entitled “Only Black Lives Matter: Racial Hysteria in Contemporary America” by Dr. David Azerrad at the CPET conference on April 8.
As Co-Director of the CPET, I want to make the following important points to everyone in the Saint Vincent Community.
Saint Vincent does not endorse the promulgation of any point of view which may be interpreted as a form of invidious discrimination which inherently degrades the sanctity of human life. We are an institution which has served our community for over 175 years and, in that time, we know that the country has struggled to overcome systemic bigotry against many people. While we have seen much success in this regard through the prayers and earnest efforts of many people of all races, religions and backgrounds, we know that the evolution of the human race to a point where bigotry is confined to the pages of history has many miles yet to travel. As we believe that all human life shares the common bond of being Children of God, we will do all in our power to help that evolution in our society and in the hearts of each person we seek to serve.
The examples used during the lecture by Dr. Azerrad including those which downplayed and minimized the role of several highly accomplished African Americans including George Washington Carver, the women who played a strategic role in the mathematics underlying the early launches of NASA, and his theory as to why Kamala Harris was selected as VP on the basis of her standing solely as an African American woman were demeaning in many ways.
As an institution rooted in the Benedictine, Catholic and liberal arts tradition, the College does invite responsible opinion on a wide range of topics to enable our students to assess the multiplicity of views extant in our world. Only through exposure to those disparate points of view can we help students, through reasoned and critical analysis, to sort out those views that have the greatest value in advancing the cause of positive social growth and the just treatment of all of God’s creation.
But while we invite the responsible presentation of viewpoints regardless of whether they are currently popular, and seek to provide an opportunity for critical appraisal and the formation of refined views by those who find good faith disagreement with them, we will never endorse the message of anyone who deprecates the struggle of those who have been victimized by bigotry. In this case, the speaker’s presentation was not consistent with the Benedictine values of hospitality and respect for all people. We regret that it was presented at this forum. Beyond this, we pledge our continued support for the efforts of all those who in good faith seek to eradicate bigotry as part of their mission to serve God and God’s people.
Dr. Gary Quinlivan