LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We refuse to be silent

We will keep fighting until we all can breathe.


Mattigan Kelly

The Divinity School

Ristina Gooden and Mack Griffith

Dear Editor,

We read Miquéla Thornton’s op-ed, You’re the loudest when you’re silent in times of injustice,” and could not help but agree and support her stance. As the President and Vice President of Vanderbilt Divinity School’s Student Government Association, we felt compelled to take a stance. A version of this letter was sent to the student body of Vanderbilt Divinity School by the Student Government Association, but we feel it necessary to make a more public statement concerning the injustice in our country, in our state and in our city.

We wish we could just say it has been one hell of a weekend, but that is not true. It has been one hell of a month, year and lifetime. Our Black siblings have been subjected to the hatred that has existed in this country for well over 400 years, and that is not acceptable. The hatred demonstrated by police officers against Black bodies requires a response that is coordinated and determined. We know many members of the Vanderbilt community are looking for ways to support racial justice and urge our wider communities to do the same. To further this movement for justice, we share the resources below as ways to make our voices heard.

We have kneeled quietly and were attacked. We have protested loudly, yet still, no justice has been served.

The “I Will Breathe” rally on Saturday which many of us participated in reaffirmed that the work we are doing is timely and necessary. As Emilie Townes, Dean of the Vanderbilt University Divinity School, said, “we will continue to teach, preach, and practice this inside the classroom and in the public spaces we inhabit. It is the gospel. It is our mandate.”

We know the work of combating white supremacy and police brutality is hard and uncomfortable, but know that we continue to stand with you in this fight. White friends, colleagues, neighbors and leaders: stand with your Black friends, colleagues, neighbors and leaders. Use your privilege to amplify the voices of people of color and stand in the gap between corrupt systems and the Black and Brown bodies of the oppressed. Now is the time to listen to our siblings of color, hear their needs and stand up to meet them.

If you are looking for ways to get involved, please refer to the list shared by the Vanderbilt Student Government.

We are activists and scholars-in-training who all contribute to justice, equality and equity. We will keep fighting until we all can breathe.


Standing in the struggle,

Ristina Gooden, President, 2020-2021 Vanderbilt Divinity School Student Government Association

Mack Griffith, Vice President, 2020-2021 Vanderbilt Divinity School Student Government Association