Dear SA+AH Community – As a community of artists, designers, educators and scholars we are uniquely qualified to address this particular moment. We can confront the institutional racism of this country and the injustices and acts of violence that radiate from it. George Floyd was killed by one police officer but he was empowered by a system that trained his fellow officers to stand down, rather than intervene. As a community we need to use our skills to work toward a more just society, to envision other systems and ways to live together. I acknowledge that many of you are already doing this work. I write this to amplify your actions and add my voice to yours.
For many of us, learning and actively listening are important first steps. As a white woman I need to acknowledge my privilege, that I have benefited from a system that is not equal. As educators we can model how to question our own biases, learn from the experiences of others, and begin to do the hard work to change and make change. I am proud of the work we have begun to do within the school to make visible our diversity, to educate from a myriad of perspectives, and to commit to continuing to value, improve, and expand these efforts.
We still have a lot of work to do. We need to pledge to seek out the perspectives of people of color within our community and make space for ongoing conversations and ways to take action. We need to be brave enough to engage in conversations that will not always be comfortable. We need to make sure our education is accessible to those that need it the most and inclusive to everyone that joins our school. We need to continue to recruit diverse staff and faculty and engage them fully when they choose to join us. I am committed to this process and have asked several experts from the university community to engage in these conversations alongside us next year.
It is hopeful that we are in a moment that many people using their public profiles to magnify the voices of others to talk about race and how to be anti-racist. Within our own community President Fuchs called on the Gator Nation to, “Ask each of use to consider our actions, sphere of influence and how they can personally be part of positive change. Take a moment to listen to those effected and to engage in self-reflection and education around these issues.” and Dean Ozuzu called on us to “get to work on change” while also asking us to take care, “let’s take a collective deep breath with awareness that it is precious and not guaranteed to all equally, let’s take care of one another, let’s pay attention to keeping our hearts and minds restoring and strong, and let’s get BACK to work. The future is now.” (https://twitter.com/PresidentFuchs/status/1266516821173325825 and https://twitter.com/DeanOnyeOzuzu/status/1267594709473648642/photo/1) .
Finally, we need to recognize the pain that these injustices cause. It is time to work individually to learn, to regenerate our strength, so we can come together stronger, more accountable, and with a clear vision of the future we want to inhabit. Until we come together in fall, please take care of yourselves and those you love.