5.31.2020 | Dear students: A shared responsibility to achieve justice
This afternoon I joined the Community-Wide Prayer Gathering and marched through the King-Lincoln District to Shiloh Baptist Church. Throughout the songs, speeches, and prayers, Amadou Diallo was on my mind. I keep coming back to this name. This man. Unarmed. And fired upon by police with 41 bullets. In 1999, New York City. Definitely not the first innocent Black man to be killed by the police, and unfortunately not the last.
But, as a person growing up with the privilege of whiteness on my side, it was the national outrage following the murder of Diallo that opened my eyes to the systemic nature of police brutality and the impacts of institutionalized racism. It made me angry.
Every year, more names are recited with the accompanying chant of “Say His Name.” And, now, George Floyd.
The death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, on May 25, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and other recent acts of racism and racial violence underscore the need for us here at CCAD and for all Americans to join together to confront injustice in a united, meaningful way.
The institutionalized racism and injustice that allows these murders and abuses to happen time and time again with little or no consequences for the perpetrators will not be upended by rooting out the “bad apples,” though those responsible must be held accountable. And, no, it won’t be solved by breaking windows in our neighborhood, though the grief and outrage that leads to these actions are understandable. And, no, it won’t be solved with only talk. Talking is not enough, though it’s an important step.
Instead, we must take action. We must work together, using whatever privileges and powers we have, to advocate for justice, an end to systemic racism, and a dismantling of the institutions that sustain inequality within our communities. In addition to doing what we can as a leader in the region, we at CCAD have to look inward and make sure our own institution is not unknowingly contributing to racism and injustice within the college.
At CCAD, there is always more we can do to support our students of color and ensure that our entire student body understands that our community is one that stands for justice, equity, and inclusivity.
At CCAD, we will support students of color to succeed as students, to tell their stories, to share their voices with the world, and to make a living after graduating as creatives of color. We will work to ensure the classroom environment is one that lifts up and makes room for all voices and experiences. We will do better to ensure all of our students have a diverse faculty body with whom to work. And, we will listen to what our students need from us.
We may not always get it right. Alone, we may not be able to solve the systemic racism that led to the deaths of Amadou Diallo, Tyre King (here in our own neighborhood), George Floyd, and so many others. But, we will always do our best to stand on the right side of history, to use our institutional voice to speak out against injustice, to support our students of color—and all of our students—who are the creative voices making the world a better place.
Students, to this end, I invite you to a conversation on Friday, June 5, at 4 p.m. (details to come later this week). I will be there to listen. I want to know how you’re doing and what you need. And I want to work with you to ensure that CCAD is a place of justice, and one that lives by its Core Values of respect, positivity, accountability, and inspiration each and every day.