A Sad Day: Brief Reflections by President Martinez-Saenz

President Miguel Martinez-Saenz, Ph.D.


Dear Members of the St. Francis College Family,

I write you this brief note feeling a deep sorrow, a sorrow that emerges from seeing a seditious act at the steps of our Capitol all the while knowing that this behavior has been endorsed and encouraged by the elected President of the United States. And, even more disappointing, this appears to be endorsed, at least implicitly, by many among us.

As Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently stated years ago, "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter...In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." This is no time to be silent.

I urge you to reflect deeply and mindfully on this situation and ask yourself honestly why peaceful Civil Rights protestors were subjected to police violence in some of the most heinous ways imaginable yet today violent rioters that are attempting to undermine our Constitution by seizing our Capitol are being "allowed" to engage in what can be easily characterized as a coup attempt.

As I have said before, our first obligation is to investigate our own complicity in the problems we say we overtly oppose as well as the subjective mechanisms that condition our habitual and psychological responses to these problems. This is a fundamental obligation that is not easily accepted. Asking ourselves if we are part of the problem takes courage; it also requires us to look honestly at the ways we rationalize our ways out of becoming part of a solution.

We are witnessing something today that most of us could not have imagined possible in one of the greatest democratic experiments the world has witnessed. But it is high time that we take responsibility for the pathologies that plague our country. These violent rioters feel entitled to do what they want as they try to overturn a Presidential election. Let us make plain one of the things that need to be made plain: if these rioters were black or brown, they would have been exposed to the most violent of responses by the State. Simply recall the images of peaceful Civil Rights protestors being brutalized by both ordinary citizens and the State and compare them to the images being seen at the moment. Today we are witnesses to rioters violently breaking into the Capitol and walking aimlessly around the Capitol buildings with minimal disruption. A sad day in United States history, to be sure.

I urge each of you to take a few days off and read the book titled Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. "As we go about our daily lives, caste is a wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which don't."

It is time to become historically aware and brave enough to confront the truth of the matter by remaining maladjusted to injustice as we emphasize that a commitment to the Gospel requires us to speak to and about injustice. I, for one, condemn the behavior taking place at our nation's Capitol today.

Echoing Dubois, I sign off with a "hope not hopeless but unhopeful."

President Martinez-Saenz