Dear Next Gen community,
Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed and many of us have participated in the protests and public outcry over the violent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, and Elijah McClain, adding to a list of thousands of names and lives taken by police brutality in the United States.
We've done this while dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately impacting Black, Brown, and low-income communities. For many of us, these are our communities and our families, our parents and caregivers, our brothers, our sisters, and our non-binary family members who are sick and who are dying.
For many members of Next Gen, anti-Black racism is not someone else's experience. Police violence is not something that has happened to someone else. It has or is happening to people within our community and to the people we love.
In his powerful statement to the first-generation and/or low-income (FGLI) community at Harvard, Daniel Lobo, President of the First-Generation Harvard Alumni (FGHA) group and founding member of the Next Gen initiative, captured the weight of this moment for our community:
"The term 'anti-racist' has entered our lexicon as a mode of being that seeks to consciously combat the systemic racism that surrounds our society at the individual level. As a queer Black person, my entire life has felt like an act of anti-racism."
The Next Gen leadership team unequivocally affirms Black Lives Matter. We stand with our Black Next Gen colleagues and FGLI community members and their communities.
We recognize that we are at a pivotal moment in our collective history. This a time of national reckoning with the enduring legacies of slavery and white supremacy that have reinforced systemic racism within the very fabric of this country and our institutions, including Harvard University.
We recognize that it is only because of centuries of Black resistance and the work of civil rights activists and the allies for worker rights that organizations like Next Gen are possible. More specifically, Next Gen is possible because of the foundational work of our Black Next Gen leaders and first-generation colleagues, who have spent years elevating the needs of and creating the data-backed resources for FGLI at Harvard.
In particular, Dan's leadership and persistent work on behalf of FGLI students at Harvard over the last several years (from college student to co-founder of the First-Generation Student Union [FGSU] to administrator and president of the FGHA) has made organizations like PRIMUS and Next Gen possible. We thank him for his continued leadership, even as he moves on with the next stages of his career at UC Berkeley. We celebrate you, Dan.
And we urge everyone to read Dan's full statement here.
As we continue to navigate together the challenges of the present moment, we hope you will join the support networks available to you within Next Gen and the wider Harvard community. Isolation during this remote time is real and has an impact on all of us. For anyone needing assistance this summer, please don't hesitate to contact us directly.
The Next Gen Leadership Team
Next Gen Leadership Team
Dr. Leslie Adams
Dr. Roberto Gonzalez
Dr. Nancy Hill
Dr. Vinothan Manoharan
Dr. Amanda Sharick