Jeff Johnson Alumni Letter

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cysmiley, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. cysmiley

    cysmiley Active Member

    Jun 30, 2012
    +86 / 2 / -1
    Nice! from ALumni Association

    Good afternoon, Cyclones…everywhere:

    In light of the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others, painful reminders of the bigotry and injustices we wrestle with in our nation are upon us…again. These incidences have led to an incredible amount of public unrest.

    The public killing of Mr. Floyd, in broad daylight, by a Minneapolis policeman while his colleagues observed it, has left many of us frozen, shocked, and downright angry. All of this is happening simultaneously with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The coupling of these two realities has led to peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests, additional loss of jobs, greater food insecurity issues, and further acknowledgment of known and unknown inequalities.

    It has shown that citizens of our country are willing to participate in these protests at a time when social distancing, wearing of masks, and staying at home would be better than transmitting or catching the virus. But when people feel their backs are pushed against the wall, common sense says speak out. Shout out. Turn out. This is what we are seeing. Others may not get it, but a “caged bird has to sing.”

    It also has made it hard to ask a very common—and I feel at times—very narrow and hollow question—How are YOU doing?



    How ARE you doing?

    This is now a BIG question, especially for the day and time we are living in and experiencing.

    For many Cyclones, it can be taken personally, and can be answered … simply with expressions like "fine," "never better," "any better I’d have to pinch myself," and so on.

    For many Cyclones, it can be a very emotional question that might conjure up thoughts of stress related to COVID-19, loss of a loved one, jobs, finances, current protests (and, in some cases, past riots), etc.

    For many Cyclones, it can be a question that conjures up a set of painful memories of still feeling invisible, unheard, and disrespected because of one’s race, politics, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

    But, for many Cyclones, they simply say, "You don’t really want to know or truly care about how I am doing." They may say, "Since you asked, please know that I am tired, angry, exhausted, hurt, and in pain. And while we’re finally talking, please also know that I am proud to have earned my degree from Iowa State; however, I have not yet resolved the experiences I had to endure while at Iowa State, especially as a student of color."

    Many of these Cyclones tell me that they are still trying to find their way back to Iowa State, because it is their alma mater. Their pain, however, is real, and so was their experiences. It’s time to lay it all out on the table and learn what it is really like to be black in America and to have been an African American student in Ames at Iowa State University. That special and painful time in many of these students lives, or the employees who loaded up their possessions and families and relocated them to our community, further shaped them. If you are of the majority race, did their presence at Iowa State and in Ames shape and change you as well?

    Have any of us really delved into this area of inquiry, or are we just asking, blindly, "How are you doing?"

    For me, as a 21-year Cyclone and 57 years of age, I remain hopeful, optimistic, and prayerful. You see, since 2015, the Iowa State University Alumni Association Board of Directors and staff have been on an internal journey trying to find our way through these very tough and unpleasant questions. It’s been painful at times, but it’s also brought us closer and given us greater empathy for each other.

    And while our journey to date has been extremely rewarding and insightful, we still have greater work to do. And that work must now become public. We will need all of you to join with us in our pursuits of finding unity, community, and space for all to be “forever true” Iowa State sons and daughters. Here are a few of those to-dos:

    • Help us more fully develop our records on alumni so we can better support alumni, students, and friends who are requesting ways to better connect with Iowa State alumni who mirror their gender, race, sexual orientation, life experiences, etc.

    • Ensure we are more intentional in our programming and services, as to bring more real-life opportunities to the forefront for dialogue, projects, funding, etc.

    • Facilitate discussions around hard topics by infusing the expertise of our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends who are trained in this kind of work.

    • Make sure we are doing more in the five areas of personal development and well-being—career, social, financial, physical, and community.

    As we move forward, may we do so together recognizing that love and understanding cannot be legislated. These two areas are fostered by steady one-on-one encounters with each other. It then moves to truth telling/honest dialogue. It then becomes intentional -- causing all of us to be a bit uncomfortable. This is modeled this way—I hate that I have allowed my absence and silence to hold me back. I can no longer be passive in this important moment of my and my countries’ development. And finally, simply express love, and do this the best way you know how.

    For me, I simply, and daily, acknowledge that when I am in the presence of another human being, whether they look like me or we share anything in common, I’ve dropped the “How are you doing” phrase. I simply say hello, hi, good day, excuse me, please, may I, etc. As a result, I have built rapport, presence, and consistency. Oh, and all of this is done with a smile. What am I really saying?

    Love and service to each other build trust, opportunity, and community. Simply said, we need to start seeing each other and stop walking past each other. We’re not ships. We are human beings coexisting in a very beautiful yet painful moment. Let’s seize this moment to better ourselves and be better to each other.

    Cyclones everywhere -- beginning today, we have been given an opportunity to use our education and resources to build on Iowa State’s vision of making Iowa, your community, and the world a better place.



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  2. Acylum

    Acylum Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2006
    +6,357 / 237 / -7
    Jeff Johnson is The Man.
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  3. cycloneML

    cycloneML Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2008
    +1,018 / 184 / -31
  4. BoxsterCy

    BoxsterCy Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    Living the Dream
    +22,797 / 442 / -1
    Okay, I won't leave you hanging there....

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