Dear SDA Community,
As the fallout from the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others continues to escalate, I write to you today to express the School of Dramatic Arts’ solidarity with those who grieve for their deaths, and with all victims of racism. I write to acknowledge the systemic injustice, based on race, that riddles our institutions and is embedded in our historical legacy. I write to defy the divisive hostility, prejudice, and mendacity that continues to underwrite discrimination against people of color, and which feeds the epidemic of violence against them. From the most grievous murder to the most hidden incidents of implicit bias, we witness the failure to make progress in these most fundamental matters of human dignity and sovereignty on a daily basis. We must confront racism with truth and action – every single day.
Practitioners of the dramatic arts are cultural responders and seasoned historians. I remind our community that American playwrights such as Adrienne Kennedy, Richard Wright, Suzan-Lori Parks, Amiri Baraka, Lynn Nottage, James Baldwin, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, David Henry Hwang, Lydia R. Diamond, Lorraine Hansberry, Katori Hall, Langston Hughes, Velina Hasu Houston, and so many more have dedicated much of their lives and works to challenging and uprooting racist attitudes in our culture and politics. If I had to recommend a single one of their works to you today, it would be Sleep Deprivation Chamber by Adrienne Kennedy and her son Adam, which reconstructs a real-life incident in which Adam was pulled over by a Virginia police officer, beaten, and then charged with assault. Plays such as this remind us of the stark and unavoidable truth: those of us who turn a blind eye, who believe in the myth of the “post-racial society,” are abandoning our fellow citizens. We salute the playwrights who continue the struggle for equity, as we salute all artists with the courage to stand against prevailing oppression with a message of resistance.
We stand with our black colleagues, students, alumni, families, and stakeholders at this time to unequivocally repudiate police brutality, racism in all its forms, and the ongoing and gathering threat of white supremacy, which seeks to destroy the basic notion of equality and justice for all. We stand with all people of color who face, in a current climate of almost intolerable partisanship, the realities of fear, stigmatization, and dismissal. We urge our community to engage with both histories and futures, works that have been written and works yet to be formed, that address the intolerable but entrenched existence of racism in this nation’s soul. We commit to the opening of space, both personal and creative, in order to allow the voices of those who have been, and are, oppressed to take center stage. To that end, please see below for details regarding an SDA CommUNITY Conversation and Collective Call to Action hosted by our Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Anita Dashiell-Sparks, this Wednesday, June 3rd. Please note that directly following this event, the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs is hosting a forum, at 1 p.m.
In closing, I ask that each of us consider our own place in the matrix of our societies, and how best we can take actionable steps against racism. In particular, to those of us who uphold the very systems and structures that have historically perpetuated bias, I say that our responsibility is reflected in the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
SDA CommUNITY Conversation: Collective Call to Action
June 3, 2020
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (PDT)
During this time of a global pandemic, the pandemic of racial injustice is also making its presence known. It is affecting ourselves, our families, and our communities. We invite SDA students, faculty, staff, and alumni to discuss the historical and institutional contexts for the protests, unrest, and rise in anti-Black racism, xenophobia, hate crimes, and racial profiling/policing. As a collective community, we will share resources and find strategies towards fostering racial equity, ally-ship, and social justice. Utilizing the power of stories, and our power as artists and educators we can inform, raise awareness, provoke civil discourse, and leverage our influence towards envisioning justice and promoting activism.
CommUNITY Conversation hosted by Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion along with colleagues.
SDA CommUNITY Conversation and Call to Action Resources
Race, Ethnicity, and Culture:
- When Culture meets COVID-19
- A guide to how you can support marginalized communities
- Talking About Race
Avoiding Further Marginalization on Campus and in the Local Community:
- Senators urge anti-bias police training over mask fears
- ‘It Conjures Up Every Racial Stereotype.’ For Black Men, Homemade Masks May Be a Risk All Their Own
- We are not COVID-19: Asian Americans speak out on racism
Holding us accountable – Educating our Community Against Bias and Discrimination:
- How can employers stop discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic?
- Protecting Asian American and Pacific Islander Working People
- Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era
- Center for Urban Education (CUE) Equity-mindedness
- Teaching More Inclusive Guide
Action Steps – Get Involved: