The faculty and staff of the Theater and Dance Department feel grief and anger in response to the killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We unequivocally support Black Lives Matter and all those who have and will continue to protest to make police brutality and anti-Black violence a thing of the past. We condemn racism and state-sanctioned violence, and stand in solidarity with those affected by these scourges. Yet condemnation and solidarity are not enough.
We are especially mindful that our department has been slow to fully acknowledge the endemic reality of white supremacy and the damage it does to our students and to our community. The history of Amherst and the history of our own department are tied to our country’s history of institutional racism in every moment of complacency, neglect, and delay. As an historically white-led department in a white-majority dominated field, we must usher in a new era of change, starting now. We must shed light on what we have yet to see, and we must listen when asked to do more.
We commit to better understanding the ways that systemic racism is present in our academic content and activities, our major requirements and programming, and in our collaborations with artists in the field. Beginning now, and over the next two years, we will examine and reform our curriculum, teaching practices, and decision-making processes in order to reveal and dismantle oppressive structures. We will include the voices and the lived experience of students in the process, and we will nurture a culture in which painful mistakes can be brought to light and repaired. In doing so, we will collectively imagine and build a more liberated future in which our department attends to the need of our community for trust and belonging.