A MESSAGE TO THE PENN STATE DICKINSON LAW COMMUNITY FROM DEAN AND DONALD J. FARAGE PROFESSOR OF LAW DANIELLE M. CONWAY

June 5, 2020 — Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law Danielle M. Conway shared the following message with the Penn State Dickinson Law community on Sunday, May 31, 2020:

Dear Dickinson Law Community,

I will disclose to you what I am experiencing as a Black woman living through a pandemic that is killing our brothers and sisters, and yes, disproportionately killing our Black brother and sisters. I will disclose to you what I am experiencing as a wife to an African man and mother to a Black son, fighting the paralysis that handcuffs me when they leave my sight. I will disclose to you what I am feeling as a veteran who has served her country for 27 years because I am a patriot but hearing a President discount me for my race and my gender. I will disclose to you what I am feeling as the daughter of a dead father who was a police officer who bled blue and perpetrated many of the ills we rebuke in this very moment. I will disclose to you what I am experiencing as a Black woman leading at Penn State Dickinson Law where students, staff, faculty, and administrators are working at this very moment to act to support vulnerable members of our community. Today, I am a member of that vulnerable group. And while I would do anything to shield you from this pain, it is likely that you may one day be vulnerable too.

I am exasperated, disconsolate, and infuriated by seemingly never-ending acts of overt and covert racism as well as near impenetrable institutions in American society that build their foundations on the degradation of black bodies and psyches. Racism is an incessant malady and a scourge to all of humanity. In this way, not one of us is safe.

All of this said, I stand on the right side of justice knowing who I am and from where I come. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors who are also your ancestors—the Emmett Tills, the Steven Bikos, the Pauli Murrays, the Frederick Douglasses, the Ida B. Wellses, and on and on. I stand with allies who use their privilege to place a human shield between justice and injustice. I stand up and speak out, knowing that it places me and my beloved family within the sights of those who have lost their humanity. I stand and persevere because to do otherwise would be to give up on humanity and the power and the promise of the rule of law.

I will disclose this last truth: I believe in each one of you and your individual and collective abilities to use this moment and the skills you are learning as law students to banish injustice, inequality, racism, and sexism. You are the reason I can compartmentalize my fears and bracket my breaking heart. We have the power to stop killing Black people. We have the power to stop weaponizing white privilege against Black people. We have the power to protect Black mothers from the constant assaults on their psyches that come from knowing their Black sons’ bodies can be snatched from their arms.

We have the power to love one another, to respect one another, and to be decent to one another. We now need the will.

I remain always in service to you, to my country, and to the rule of law. Please reach out to me for anything.

Danielle M. Conway