Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,

I am writing as the Faculty Ally for Diversity in CMENAS to send you a word of support and solidarity in these stressful times. We were already struggling, many of us in isolation, as we witnessed the rising toll of COVID-19 on minority groups and the poor. The last few weeks have brought a barrage of injustices that have caused many of us even more sadness, pain, and fear. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, and various other incidents in the news, have exposed yet again the racism and systematic injustices that plague our society, and underscore the hard work we all have to do to overcome these evils. I know that we are each affected differently by the protests and marches across America, and many feel a mixture of emotions as our country looks for a way forward. 

President Schlissel and Vice Provost Sellers have each issued statements that give voice to the feelings that many in the university are dealing with and offer valuable words of advice. These words remind us that we must rely on one another for support and strength as we deal with the traumas of recent weeks, and remember that our mission in the university and in CMENAS includes, as President Schliessel says, using our skills and our power to address societal problems. These problems affect us all, and we all have a responsibility to respond. I urge us all to think about what we can do, as individuals and as a community in CMENAS, to meet these challenges, to help rectify these injustices, and also to support each other in the weeks and months ahead. 

The School of Social Work has also issued a list of resources and action items that may be of use to you. Samer and I are available to meet with anyone who wants to talk about these issues or who is seeking resources to deal with the current situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 

In solidarity,

Ryan Szpiech and Samer M. Ali


Ryan Szpiech
Associate Director, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies
Associate Professor, Romance Languages & Judaic Studies
University of Michigan
Editor, Medieval Encounters


Samer M. Ali
Director, Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies  
Associate Professor, Department of Middle East Studies
Chair, Islamophobia Working Group [DEI Climate Issues]
University of Michigan