A Letter from the Notre Dame Chiefs of Police on Racism and Inclusion

Author: Keri Kei Shibata

Mary Dome

We struggle to find the words to adequately capture our thoughts and feelings, but to not respond and to not speak out is an act of complacency that we simply cannot allow.  We cannot let acts of injustice become so common that we become desensitized to them.

We, as members of the Notre Dame Police Department, must stand together in the wake of injustices that have been plaguing our nation and our communities.  We must not allow the seeds of discord and racial intolerance to take root in our department or in our lives.  We have a calling that is much higher than ourselves and much higher than that of human decency.  We have a calling to act. To act with integrity, with compassion, with empathy, and with kindness. We have a duty to act when we witness oppression and injustice are taking place, even if it means confronting our colleagues or our administrators.

We must continue to provide a place where students, faculty and staff, and guests and visitors can come and experience all that our Lady’s University has to offer without fear.  We must hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard and we must stand up for those who are unable or feel that they cannot stand for themselves.
We must be part of continued conversation and action on how we can do better and serve better.  

American writer Ijeoma Oluo said this “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward”.   The movement toward peace and toward understanding have to begin with each of us, examining our own thought patterns and the way in which we respond.    We can begin this by simply practicing the pause.  When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pray, pause. 

The death of George Floyd was senseless and tragic and the violence in the streets that continues is appalling.  However, do not allow yourselves to be dragged down by negativity in the media and social media.  Hear the pain, fear, and anger and know that it is real and warranted, however, know also that this community supports you and appreciates you.  I have heard from many in the Notre Dame community over the last week asking how they can support you and expressing thanks for the work that you continue to do.  YOU are Notre Dame, and what Notre Dame asks of all her members is that we be a force for good in the world and work together "to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice."  You already do this on a daily basis in so many ways, and we will continue to challenge ourselves, each other, and our profession to truly serve all members of our communities.

I pray that we can move to a place where we can normalize equality.  I pray that we don’t have to wait for the next generation to bring about change but that it can begin right now and it can begin with you and with me.  I pray that we will be quick to extend grace and understanding, that we would be quick to intervene when we see injustice happening.  I pray that we will be slow to speak and eager to listen. I pray that we can raise a generation where curiosity causes dialogue and understanding and where difference isn’t feared but celebrated. I must continue to do better. We must continue to do better, together.

I leave you with this final thought, shared with the Campus Safety and University Operations Leadership Team last week, by Staff Chaplain Fr. Bracke, It is the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis. It was a favorite prayer of Fr. Hesburgh and has become aspirational for me during this time.  

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Be civil and kind and generous, and compassionate.  Just be better today than you were yesterday.

Serve Well.
Keri Kei, Steve, and Keith