February 18, 2021
Dear SEBS students,
Earlier this week we shared a post on our Instagram account of one of our associates at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension's Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources in a farm field.
The image of an African American woman in a farm field, especially out of context, has rightly caused concern and alarm. Although a well-intentioned attempt at promoting the important role of our African American students, researchers and staff in modern agriculture, it was misguided for us to not consider the potential misinterpretation of the photo and the pain that it could cause to so many.
The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences has since deleted the post and shared an apology, which in part says: "We sincerely apologize for the recent post. Black History Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the many contributions of African Americans in our development as a nation and society and an opportunity to address ongoing racial injustice. Our School realizes that it is much more than an image and we are committed to making our communications more inclusive..."
We will not always get it right, but we are committed to correcting it when we get it wrong.
Laura J. Lawson
Interim Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Interim Executive Dean, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Interim Executive Director, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Enobong (Anna) Branch
Senior Vice President for Equity