Finding Consolation in a Senseless Act of Violence
Mr. Richard W Collins, III a graduating senior at Bowie State University and Second Lieut. in the U.S. Army was murdered in a senseless act of violence that took place on the campus of the University of Maryland on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Although, the details of this White-on-Black murder are still sketchy and the motivations of the assailant unclear, the pain, confusion and heartache they have caused on our campus are palpable.
Our hearts are heavy with sadness and indignation as we think about the price Mr. Collins has paid. The very promising life of this young man was extinguished in its prime. As a result, Mr. Collins will not make the contributions to society for which he was trained and destined. It is left to us to make sense of and give meaning to his life.
Now in this moment of sorrow is the time for tempered reflection and civil discourse and not mutual recrimination. It is not the time to retreat into our natural affinity groups and nurse suspicions. One senseless and lethal act of aggression must not give rise to meaningless acts of reprisal. We cannot allow his life to be given in vain. If good can come from evil it will be that this event stands as a watershed and marks an inflection point in which UMD- students, faculty, staff, and administrators will resolutely strive to create a more open and accepting community that is protective. When we lack personal up-close connections animosity may find fertile ground and prosper. We can and must struggle to find ways to appreciate our differences while not ignoring the values we share.
If we look at ourselves honestly, we have made progress but not enough to prevent the death of Mr. Collins. There is much we can do on a practical level with respect to identifying and understanding and addressing the conditions that make such tragedies possible. At these times more than ever we need ways to bridge the divides between us. To achieve this outcome, we must remain steady in our conviction that love not hate will win out and will bring us justice and equality. This is the cost of hatred, mutual suspicion is high. Sean Urbanski ‘s own life may very well be consumed by it. We must look at Mr. Collins’ death as a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done to create a society in which justice is the norm and where seething resentment has no place. Today, let us resolve that hatred and violence should find no welcome on our campus, no protected space in our speech, and no acceptance in our hearts. That will be one true consolation we can derive as we mourn the tragic loss of Mr. Collins.
Oscar A. Barbarin,
Professor and Chair, African American Studies,
Professor of Psychology