OP-ED by Dr Michael Torrence: One Motlow

As an institution, Motlow State Community College supports equity, diversity, and inclusion. We condemn racism. We are walking the walk by investing in our employees, students, and communities, not just in the form of designated calendar celebrations or awareness campaigns, but with action. The death of George Floyd, on the heels of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor gives us all pause. Breathe. We all agree to the senselessness. Breathe. Our institution supports participatory non-violent activism and dialogues that drive from conversation, story, and innuendo toward action. Action born out of community. Action born out of unity. Action born out of humility and service to one another. Action. We will not utter words for the sake of words. Our words are not empty. We must intentionally take the steps to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

During the week of June 15, Dr. Kevin McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Virginia and leading expert in higher education responses to crisis, will be meeting with the leadership of Motlow State Community College in a facilitated Zoom session. The topic will be related to Leading with Integrity in Response to Racial Inequalities in Higher Education. Our NIXLA (National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy) Fellows will be meeting also, and if you would like to join this 90-minute Zoom session, please email Ms. Brenda Cannon. 

Begin with the end in mind, we must. Motlow Family, as a community, we have viewed, listened, and or participated in various conversations and actions at differing degrees. In our lifetime, we have perhaps witnessed and endured social injustice and inequity based on variables of ethnicity, gender, and belief systems. The broadness of courageous action necessitates more than dialogue or simply looking into a mirror. It calls for unity. The questions that need to be begged are not singular. The questions call you and me. The solutions will be paradigm shifting. My Grandfather R. reminded me of awareness every single time he was present, and today this awareness creates tone deafness. Our heightened consciousness is the music sought. 

As your President, I will continue to wrap the arms of this institution around you. Know that this sense of protection is beyond duty and responsibility to you as employees, or to our students and our communities. Moreover, it is a deep sense to protect and shield you from harm and wretchedness. This does not happen alone, nor can one human being carry the weight of us all. However, as a group, we are more than capable of supporting justice, supporting each other, and supporting those whose voices need to be heard. Our Motlow is with you always. 

As an African American man, with multiple ethnic group ancestry, I believe in humanity. Like some of you, I am a father, husband, and son. Like you, I know I cannot be anything that I am not. Like you, I wrestle with pain and anguish. Like you, I’m wrestling with the words to communicate with those I love. Like you, in some way, shape, or form, I’ve wrestled with that sense of Lisa Delpit’s “otherness” my entire life. I will rest on my values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all I do. Like you, I have been taught to love, listen, and learn. Let’s move together with respect. 

At the time of this writing, it was a late night per usual and my home was quiet. The still of night is when I usually plan, put pen to paper to diagram, and take stock of the present. I think of us. The noise of the day was delayed away in its creases until dawn. I watched a rocket launch Saturday before last. Space X and NASA are huge achievements. I watched my child play. I learned more about my family that week. Outwardly and inwardly, I know grace. We are all grateful for what hard work produces, but I have watched my country continue to burn today too. My country is being looted; Nashville, TN was set afire. Our fellow citizens in and outside the region are paralyzed in fear. I am disappointed. I am hurting. I am vulnerable. I feel a sense of helplessness. I am human. However, I, too, know I’m not alone. I ask us to lean in deeper, and I, too, will lean in further. Let’s continue to learn and elevate our communications and actions. 

Coast to Midwest to other Coast, citizens are tired. Tired of negativity. Tired of pandemic. Tired of hateful and condescending rhetoric. I am most certain people are tired of being tired. Mental degradation has taken its toll on us all. Our Nation, as a whole, now sees the outcomes of repeated socio emotional negligence. This is about a lot of different things, but at its core, it’s about humanity. My lens is not important. My question of, “How does the vertical integration of emerging technology and information communication technologies improve the human condition?” is not important to me right now. That question was very important to me a few months ago. That question drove me. I am asking different questions now. Much has emerged now, and we will calibrate this successful future together. Be assured, I still know where we are headed. I am encouraged that we will come out of this stronger. I am compelled to believe in the best of us. 

In all of our pasts, Elders whispered into our ears while we slept of making truths conscious. Were we numb to atrocities acted out against those who exist in a world where groups are misidentified and marginalized? I know I am not alone with these thoughts and neither are you. Motlow Family, you matter to me. I needed to say that. I needed to share these thoughts with you all. Let’s not just say something, let’s do something. We are and we will continue with action. Thank you for all you do, especially what goes unnoticed, unreported, and invisible in support of others. You are all appreciated.

One College. One Community. One Motlow.

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. News and Sports Director for Rooster 101.5 FM, 93.9 The Duck and Whiskey Country 105.1, and 95.9. He is currently the play-by-play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders (31 years) on The Rooster 101.5 and can be heard M-F broadcasting our local news. Lucky has done play-by-play for 3,947 (and counting) sports events on Radio & TV. He also served four years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for six years at Grundy County High School.

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