In response to the violence against Black and African-American people and the wave of protests and unrest across the country, we’re sharing some of the perspectives of our Black students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Binundu Isaiah Samuel, co-president of the Berkeley Haas Executive MBA Class of 2020, sent this letter to classmates. We’re reposting with his permission.
Dear Executive MBA Family,
I watched the execution of George Floyd in horror and pain. Sadly, images and stories of similar atrocities have become all too common yet, this one hit different! I watched a man cry out for mercy only for his cries to fall on deaf ears. I watched a man in pain and agony cry out for his mother in fear of losing his life! Yet, his cries were drowned out by hate, ignorance, and a lack of decency for a fellow human being. No one was able to intervene, no one was able to save George Floyd, or Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor. The cries of the brutalized have echoed for generations, and now here we are. It is not ok!
The history of this nation is marred by episodes of hate. Repetitive cycles, where black bodies and lives are mangled, abused, beaten, disrespected, tortured, and made to feel less than human. It is not ok!
I cried as I watched another one of my black brothers struggle for his life, and could not help but think about how that could have easily been me or someone I cared about. The video reminded me of the excessive caution that I have to exercise when interacting with police, for fear of becoming another statistic. The video reminded me of the racial slurs that I’ve endured from ignorant groups and people alike. The video reminded me of how I fear for my black friends and family, and how our safety isn’t guaranteed even at the hands of those sworn to protect us. The video reminded me of the anxiety that I feel about how those in positions of power will react to my application for a job or opportunity when they realize that I am a black candidate. Believe me; being black every day in America is a constant reminder of a broken system that screams “we don’t want you” and to be honest, I am tired. It is not ok!
Our cohort will give rise to great leaders who will have the opportunity and power to drive change and influence the world! We must heed the lessons of our past and present to ensure our future will be better. We must remember, that in whatever capacity, the change can start with us!"
I am sharing this because I feel that it is important and necessary for us to align as an EMBA community. It is time for us to decide where we stand. Are you going to be on the side of justice, equality, and fairness for all? Or are you going to pretend that there are no problems? The time for pretense is over! The mask has been lifted, and the scars are exposed for all to see – just listen to the cries reverberating from all corners of the globe. The world is in pain. It is not ok!
EMBA 20’s, we are the future. Our cohort will give rise to great leaders who will have the opportunity and power to drive change and influence the world! We must heed the lessons of our past and present to ensure our future will be better. We must remember, that in whatever capacity, the change can start with us!
Thanks to those that have reached out to me—it means a lot! Please know that I do not claim to have the answers – I am still learning, analyzing, organizing, and digesting all that is occurring. As I look for ways to contribute towards a solution, I welcome you to join me in dialogue, partnership, and allyship.
Be well and take care, EMBA family.
Binundu Isaiah Samuel
Class Co-President, EMBA Class of 2020
Read more perspectives on racism and the fight for social justice on the Berkeley Haas newsroom website.