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Remove Douglas Tilden's 'The Bear Hunt' statue from campus grounds

This petition had 145 supporters

DYUSA- Bay Area has authored a public letter addressed to the California School for the Deaf, Fremont community.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To Superintendent Sean Virnig, Faculty, Staff, Students, Alumni, and Community of California School for the Deaf Fremont:

Following the community outcry against the initial three “brands” proposed after CSD’s collaboration with Convo, the Bay Area chapter of Deaf Youth USA has decided to take a public, oppositional position regarding the position of Douglas Tilden’s “The Bear Hunt” statue on campus. We as an organization feel that the “brands” were blatantly racist, and such sentiments extend to “The Bear Hunt” statue as a whole.

Although we are glad that Superintendent Virnig released a second vlog explaining that the brands will be not used, we still have some serious concerns. The official response from CSD did not address the concern about the racist imagery of both the “brand” and the statue.

We feel that while Tilden is indeed a respected Deaf artist in our community, he remains a white male from the 19th century and the sculpture still represents generations of dehumanizing violence towards Native American communities. Such depictions have no place at a school, particularly if a school aims to uphold principles of racial and ethnic justice.

Though “The Bear Hunt” has stood at the front of campus for years, this “branding” situation served as an opportunity for us activists to challenge our social consciousness in how we have perceived and now perceive this statue. How long has the statue stood in front of campus without being challenged? How long have some individuals’ misgivings about the statue were ignored? We are working on collaborating with Native American Deaf and Deaf People of Color organizations on this issue in order to mobilize community dialogue regarding the statue.

After convening together as a group, we do not feel that the CSD campus is an appropriate location for the statue. Consequently, we believe that CSD should:

• Develop and implement school wide anti-bias training for staff, faculty, and administrators with a specific focus on anti-racism in order to equip employees in better serving students’ development of social consciousness;
• Infuse into CSD authentic multicultural K-12 curricula with the central emphasis of social justice in order to produce agents of social change among students;
• Engage in dialogue about moving the statue with community members, reaching out to not only CSD alumni but vested members of the Deaf Bay Area community and beyond.

We acknowledge there is no quick shortcut to address this problem and to dismantle the prejudices and oppression; it is a lengthy process that we are more than willing to work through with everyone involved. We as an organization are available to be a part of institutional change for the advancement of our whole community: educating ourselves and the community of the implications behind these brands and the statue on campus is imperative. Indeed, it is time undertake action towards ensuring that oppressions within our own oppressed group do not continue.

This letter is open to the community in order to garner wider support in confronting this issue.

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