To the Theatre, Speech and Dance department at the College of William & Mary,
In this present moment, the entire country is at odds, both in the midst of a global pandemic and in the midst of a nationwide protest against police brutality. As a majority-white student body and faculty, it is important that we utilize our privilege to stand up for our peers. Between the twenty-four-hour news cycle, the demand for institutions to speak up, and the fact that George Floyd’s death, among hundreds of other BIPOC brutally murdered by police, is an inherently human issue, it seems incredibly irresponsible for William & Mary Theatre, Speech & Dance to remain silent on this issue.
Our department has profited off of depicting Black violence and Black trauma onstage. We, as an institution, have a responsibility to tell Black stories and elevate Black voices, but right now— when we cannot perform on the stage —we have the opportunity to speak out in support of our Black peers, without the guise of costumes and curtains. We have the opportunity to stand, as we are, without characters or scripts, with the Black individuals in our department, acknowledging their hurt, their anger, their sadness, and their frustration with a system that has been oppressing them for four hundred years. Over William & Mary’s legacy, our department has contributed to that pattern of oppression. For our coworkers, our students, our alumni, and our friends, it important that we do not ignore the systemic racism in our national institutions, and even more so, the closer institutions that we call home.
We encourage you to take this moment to empathize and publicly express solidarity with the individuals across the country who are peacefully protesting the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, while also pledging to examine how we play a role in this system. Silence is no longer an acceptable response.
We demand that you speak up, and back up your statement with action.
Start by asking these questions. How does our department perpetuate racism in our everyday practices and interactions? Were there times where we ignored Black voices? How can we better listen to, represent, and consistently support our Black peers? How can we create and sustain a more welcoming community for people of color?
We have collected some resources that would be useful to look at in this time to understand how the department's behavior has aided white supremacy culture on campus.
What is Anti-Racism?: http://www.aclrc.com/antiracism-defined
White Supremacy Culture in Our Organizations: http://www.cwsworkshop.org/PARC_site_B/dr-culture.html
Resources for Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: http://lort.org/edi-resources
“Playwrights of Color, White Directors, and Exposing Racist Policy”: https://howlround.com/playwrights-color-white-directors-and-exposing-racist-policy
“Parents of Color and The Need for Anti-Racist Theatre Practices”: https://howlround.com/parents-color-and-need-anti-racist-theatre-practices
“Why ‘Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion’ Is Obsolete”: https://www.americantheatre.org/2019/09/16/why-equity-diversity-and-inclusion-is-obsolete/?fbclid=IwAR1Vr_zQwcE44SxVt9SInN3IJ4ORDpzN2zyHyU0VtqDzDlJQ3YAk_i-D47E
“Silence of White Theaters on Anti-Black Violence is Deafening”: http://theburtonwire.com/2020/05/31/entertainment/oped-monicandounou/?fbclid=IwAR3WZrDO7iQfpbaycfLbDRktxp45JoFWGFnMWJ4lYsZRJNeOVZQEcMJsbTU
“The Case for Reparations”: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
Concerned students and alumni