George Floyd: One Year Later
Dear Members of the College of Fine Arts Community:
Today marks one year since the murder of George Floyd, and just weeks since the deaths of Daunte Wright and Ma’Khia Bryant. While many in the country celebrated the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin, we must understand that one guilty verdict is just one step forward in the march toward social justice. Sadly, there are far too many who have not and will not meet justice.
In light of these tragic events, I write to share with you our continuing work and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Fine Arts.
Our vision is to foster an environment where all members of our community feel welcomed and experience a sense of belonging. This is an extraordinary goal to have, but it is possible. Over the last few months, we have conducted observations, field notes, listening sessions and virtual office hours to learn how folx within the schools and across the college experience practices, policies, faculty instruction, staff engagement, student socialization and other collegiate and interpersonal engagement. The need for inclusion and equity cannot be clearer.
The value of our work is apparent. However, because we know disparities are symptoms of systemic oppression – collectively, we must commit to walking our talk. Diversity unattended cannot foster positive outcomes. If we are to foster inclusion, we must actively tend to every member within our community and must do so holistically.
Current projects under way include:
- college-wide distribution of a diversity statement to be included in every syllabus;
- a series of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff to learn and sharpen pedagogical
- practices, intercultural communication skills, and inclusive curricula design;
- program development for students across CFA;
- the redesign of diversity committees at each school; and,
- the enactment of the CFA Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Over the next few months, we will welcome a new dean to the College of Fine Arts. Together, with the support of the council, we will begin to design and build a systemic framework for diversity, equity and inclusion to support our work toward inclusive academic excellence. Our work will include assessment and revision of programs, policies and practices across units, departments and schools. Among the first revisions will be websites and first-year orientation programming.
It is imperative to understand that true change results in temporary discomfort. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that there may be a sense of apprehension for many. However, it is important to acknowledge that the discomfort is temporary. It will last as long as folx are closed to the possibility of a better, more inclusive and engaged college community.
This past year required much of each and every member of our community. We all experienced the inconvenience of the pandemic; some of us felt its pain more than others. Many of us experienced insurmountable amounts of racism and racial violence. Many experienced a fear of safety for a variety of reasons. We all struggled. Recognizing the exhaustion from this year, on all of us, and our human fragility, my hope is to collaboratively create a safer space for all where we honor one another’s humanity.
In reflection of his humanity, this afternoon at 4 p.m. EST, Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, invites all members of the university to attend a gathering to commemorate George Floyd.
This day is tough for many of us. This year was tough for all. Please take good care of yourselves and know we are committed to these values and to you.
I stand in community with you all.
Valeria J. Martinez
CFA Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion