Berkeley Lab

George Floyd and the suffering in our communities

Monday, June 1, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

Our community is suffering from unimaginable grief.

The tragic death of George Floyd last week, the latest of many acts of race-related violence in our society, is echoed in the pain and anguish we see in the streets of our communities.

At the same time, we are suffering through a terrible pandemic, a pandemic that is taking a higher toll on the African American community in California and around the country.

We met this morning with members of the Lab’s African American Employee Resource Group (ERG) to listen and learn from their experiences. We want to thank them for their candid and deeply personal stories. It was upsetting to hear stories of discrimination, prejudice, and suffering that our colleagues have experienced, some of it at the Lab. It is clear that not all of our employees feel psychologically safe to speak out and share their experiences.

Hearing their stories made it clear that we need to start by talking. We need to have many more honest conversations on this topic so that every person who works here is seen and heard.

Based on the listening and learning session this morning, we will be setting up further meetings with the ERG and leadership to work toward positive cultural change. Together, we will work to find ways to help address and rectify these inequities. The Lab’s leaders are committed to making this change.

The Lab was built almost 90 years ago on the idea of Team Science, that no one succeeds alone. That principle is still true. We need to talk. We need to listen. We need each other.

We know that not all of us are experiencing the events of this week and last week in the same ways. For some who have been treated badly because of their heritage, what we are witnessing is incredibly personal and painful. Please take care of yourself. The Be Well at Work program can refer you to counseling services, and you can request a counselor who identifies as a person of color.

We want to hear from you. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to any one of us, or to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Lady Idos.

Best regards,

Mike Witherell
Lab Director

Michael Brandt
Deputy Lab Director, Operations & COO
Executive Sponsor – African American Employee Resource Group

Horst Simon
Deputy Lab Director, Research & Chief Research Officer