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Black Lives Matter

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Petition to The Administration at Westminster Choir College of Rider University

Demand that Westminster Choir College Commit to Anti-Racism

To the administration, faculty, and staff of Westminster Choir College of Rider University: In light of the horrific murder of George Floyd and the continuing acts of racism and violence against the Black community, we, the students and alumni of Westminster Choir College of Rider University, demand that WCC commit to anti-racism and the dismantling of white supremacy within the institution. We believe that Westminster has the responsibility to facilitate conversation about racial injustice and create change within the school that is reflective of all its students. On June 1st at 5:28 PM, Westminster Choir College posted the following statement on their Facebook page: “Westminster Choir College is appalled by the unconscionable events that have taken place in recent months. We urge all members of our community to stand against expressions of racism, hatred, and oppression.” (https://www.facebook.com/westminsterchoircollege/photos/a.126331100746279/3112018252177534/?type=3&theater) A number of students and alumni expressed outrage and disappointment at the college’s lack of commitment to dismantling white supremacy within the institution, highlighting topics such as course selection, racist faculty members, lack of faculty diversity, and ties to racist alumni. Westminster Choir College did not respond to any of these comments publicly. On June 3rd at 12:04 PM, a second statement was posted on the Westminster Choir College Facebook page, listing non-detailed, surface-level “commitments” to anti-racism: https://www.facebook.com/westminsterchoircollege/photos/a.126331100746279/3116691301710229/?type=3&theater. Once again, students and alumni commented asking WCC to “prove it.” It is not enough to just decry racism; Westminster Choir College must actively commit to dismantling white supremacy and eradicating structures of racism within the school. In order to gain more insight into the ways in which racism has permeated WCC, alumni organizers distributed a questionnaire to 137 current students and alumni. Of those 137 recipients, 79 responded. The participants represented a wide range of graduating classes, from 1961-2024. In terms of race, 45.5% were white, 22.1% were Black, 9.1% were Mixed Race, 9.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 6.5% were Asian, and 7.7% did not specify. The participants also represented a wide range of degree programs. One of the questions the participants were asked was, “Do you feel you had a well-rounded, forward-thinking education during your time at Westminster?”. More than half of the respondents answered “No.” Despite Westminster Choir College’s prestigious legacy and reputation, more than half of students and alumni do not feel they received a well-rounded and forward-thinking education. Indeed, to effectively offer such an education, Westminster Choir College must review and reform its current practices, including curriculum, programming, hiring and admissions, and wellness/diversity resources as they relate to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. To highlight our demands (bolded), we will reference Westminster Choir College’s second statement (italicized), posted on June 3rd: “We at Westminster Choir College are saddened and angered by the continuing acts of racial violence and injustice in our country. We stand in witness to the recent tragedies of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the many others before them. And we stand in solidarity with our Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff as we commit to speak out, listen up, and effect change in ourselves and in our world. We commit to speaking out against acts of individual and systemic racism and the injustices that Black Americans and other people of color endure; 1. We demand that Westminster Choir College take steps to hold itself accountable for taking reports of racism seriously: •Out of 79 total respondents, 14.3% said that they have/had reported racist incident(s) at WCC. •Out of those who reported racist incidents, only 4% said they received the desired outcome.•These statistics fail to illustrate the countless students who experienced racism and did not report it, due to fear of repercussions and/or fear that no one would do anything about it. 2. We demand that Westminster Choir College provide unconscious bias and diversity training for all faculty and staff, as well as terminate employment for all racist faculty and staff members: •53.9% of respondents said they have experienced microaggressions – a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microaggression) – by faculty members.•24% of respondents said that they have experienced overt or covert racism from faculty members at WCC. •26 respondents submitted written anecdotes regarding racial discrimination by faculty members, including the following (DISCLAIMER: These statements are not intended to be misconstrued as disparaging statements or opinions about faculty/staff/administration, but rather asserted as factual occurrences): •“In [Faculty Member A]’s studio class... she decided to do an aural pop quiz. She played Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and asked us what voice register is she singing in. I raised my hand and said “she’s singing in chest voice.” [Faculty Member A] yells “that’s the wrong answer even your accompanist said that you would be the one to say that answer, get your little black a** out of my studio!!!” I was the ONLY black student in her studio and my white classmates laughed and NOT 1 person defended me!”•“My freshman year [Faculty Member B] asked... what was it like growing up in the projects in front of our white classmates. We were appalled because we did not grow up in the projects… a few weeks later he said “my fondest memory of my childhood was when my grandmother would call tootsie rolls n***** babies.” •“[Faculty Member C] asked multiple students of color wether [sic] or not they were dyslexic cause of their own personal skills. She never asked any of the white students that same question.”•“[Faculty Member D] was always harder on her students of color than on her white students.”•“[Department A] was very rude to international students. They make you feel unwelcome and ‘dumb’ because you can’t understand english [sic] at 100%. Of course this is always underneath the big passive-aggressive smile of the ‘happy community’ that WCC claims to be.”•“[Faculty Member E] has said rude things to Asian students.”•“[Members of Department B] have all said outloud [sic] during rehearsal a sentiment that reflects "I don't know where to put you." And would stick all of the black students next to each other at the end of the sections.”•“[Faculty Member F] is one of the most racist professors I had the displeasure of working with… He told me that I should teach in only urban schools because I'm black.” 3. We demand that Westminster Choir College condemn racist posts and comments made by students and alumni, including Daniel Elder. “We commit to listening to those for whom racism is a daily reality and to learning from their lived experience; 4. We demand that Westminster Choir College commit to improving mental health care and resources for BIPOC, Latinx, International, and LGBTQIA+ students:•64% of Black respondents said they were not equipped with the proper mental health resources while they attended Westminster. “We commit to self-examination as a means to foster respect for diversity in ourselves and in our community; 5. We demand that Westminster Choir College regularly program non-idiomatic music by Black composers:•72.7% of respondents said they were not challenged to explore music by Black composers. •82.7% of respondents have sung less than 10 spirituals outside of choir, and 34.3% have never worked on spirituals outside of choir. 6. We demand that Westminster Choir College commit to hiring a diverse faculty/staff and admitting more BIPOC students:•42.1% of respondents never had any POC professors or faculty members. •Rochelle Ellis and Vinroy Brown are the only Black faculty members at WCC (this does not include the three (3) staff members of color). 7. We demand that Westminster Choir College commit to obtaining more information about homestay hosts during WCC tours before allowing students to stay overnight in their homes:•6.8% of respondents indicated that they were subject to racial discrimination at their homestays. “We commit to re-examining our own practices to achieve a more inclusive learning environment; 8. We demand that Westminster Choir College diversify its course selection to include more courses on African American music:•84% of respondents said they were never offered any classes on African American music while they were students at WCC. •Some courses respondents wish had been offered include (but are not limited to): •African American Music History and Ethnomusicology•African American Choral, Song, and Opera Literature•Jazz and Gospel Studies•African American Sacred Music•Analysis classes focusing on Black composers/musicians•Courses on R&B, Rap genres 9. We demand that Westminster Choir College treat Jubilee Singers as a choir of significance and value:•35.6% of respondents indicated that Jubilee Singers was not treated as a choir of significance during their time at WCC. •Respondents who elaborated on this point noted that Jubilee Singers was seen as “lesser than” or “not as prestigious” as the other choirs. One person wrote that the choir received the “least amount of attention, last choice of singers, least qualified conductors and least qualified staff accompanist.”•Yet, those who participated in the choir expressed sentiments such as: “Jubilee Singers was a home away from home and one of the only reasons why I stayed at WCC.”; “Had it not been for jubilee [sic] I would not have stayed at WCC!”; “Jubilee was created out of necessity for black voices, black culture, and black music, something rarely touched on in our other academic classes.”; “It would have been amazing to have Jubilee scheduled more than one day per week.” •Additionally, 73.6% of respondents said their voice teacher did not encourage them to audition for Jubilee Singers, and 14.1% were actively discouraged from auditioning. 5 participants indicated that their voice teachers believed Jubilee Singers would damage their voice. “We commit to bringing more diverse voices into our classrooms and more diverse stories to our stages to educate our learning community; 10. We demand that Westminster Choir College review and diversify its curriculum for Music Education majors, as well as remove folk songs rooted in minstrel songs from the curriculum: •55.1% of respondents never discussed race or racial issues in the classroom. •Respondents indicated they would like to see courses on urban education and culturally responsive teaching and learning in the music education curriculum•One respondent wrote, “Listen to BIPOC and womxn to help rebuild (if even possible for WCC specifically if it survives) what classical music means… I believe that involves building new, more specific curriculum… and hiring new [POC] adjuncts to facilitate this. There. I just wrote your new fall program.”•See: ‘Dinah, Put Down Your Horn: Blackface Minstrel Songs Don’t Belong in Music Class’ https://gen.medium.com/dinah-put-down-your-horn-154b8d8db12a  11. We demand that Westminster Choir College include Black poets in song literature courses:•59.2% of respondents indicated they had never studied any Black poets while at WCC. “We commit to fulfilling Rider’s mission to prepare ‘responsible citizens who embrace diversity, support the common good, and contribute meaningfully to the changing world in which they live and work.’” Westminster Choir College’s motto, Spectemur agendo, means “Let us be judged by our acts.” If Westminster Choir College is to truly prepare ‘responsible citizens who embrace diversity, support the common good, and contribute meaningfully to the changing world in which they live and work,’ the school must heed this call to action through a commitment to cultivating an atmosphere and curriculum that rejects racism and white supremacy, and elevates and celebrates Black voices. Regards,The Undersigned Students, Alumni, and Community

The Students and Alumni of Westminster Choir College of Rider University
1,121 supporters
Started 4 hours ago

Petition to Cherokee county police department

RELEASE CAYDEN DEWAYNE LYONS

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbs19.tv/amp/article/news/local/east-texas-teen-behind-bars-on-1m-bond-after-early-morning-arrest/501-9ab03ba4-e795-4b94-8570-b7569747a1f1 A 17 year old East Texas Black kid is behind bars on $1mil bond after he was booked into Cherokee county jail for “engaging in criminal activity”  & possession of marijuana when there are murders and rapist in the same jail for a lower bond ! They have yet to say what the criminal activity is and are judging him off of his tattoos relating him to a gang. Cayden Lyons is a really sweet & respectful kid and hasn’t harmed anyone , he is more respectful then most kids his age and says yes mam and no mam & is a gentleman with a big heart that try’s to help everyone no matter what. He’s just a kid who’s been through a lot and is trying his best with what life has handed him he lost his brother just last year and his dad also in a 4 years span & he just feels all alone and wants to feel loved! He does not all deserve $1mil dollar bond not even a white women who is in the same jail for killing someone received such harsh! Please we are begging you! Cayden is no where close to being the way the news put him out to be and slandered his name! Please there is no justice with taking his live away for what marijuana?! A white person with his charges would sadly already be out! Please sign this to help free and get justice for Cayden Lyons!

Terra Pierce
6 supporters
Update posted 11 hours ago

Petition to Kevin Faulconer

Mr. Mayor, Remove Confederate Monument Celebrating Slavery from Public Mount Hope Cemetery

Monuments honoring the Civil War that killed 1.1 million Union and Confederate Americans, the latter who fought in large part to sustain oppressing black slaves, should not be located in an area owned and maintained by all citizens of San Diego. Why does the City of San Diego expect black citizens, literal descendants of the the very people the monument celebrates enslaving, oppressing, and terrorizing, to maintain such a horrific monument?The Civil War had ended in 1865. Forty years later, in 1905 the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), bought an area within Mt. Hope Cemetery to bury area Confederate States of America (CSA) soldiers who subsequently passed away here.  Forty years after they bought the burial plots, the UDC decided to use some of the burial plots to build a monument to the war in 1948. Remember, this is not a grave marker but, a monument to the civil war and confederate soldiers who died defending succession. This wasn't an isolated event happening in San Diego alone. Just after the turn of the century, after WWII, and during the 60's Civil Rights Movement, there were surges of groups like the UDC building these memorials in response to freedoms and liberties being realized by black Americans. They did not appreciate blacks gaining an inch of ground, and over 80 years after the war, after 4 million slaves were freed, they built monuments to celebrate the war and soldiers who died defending slavery.  These are some of the events that happened just before and the following two decades after this San Diego monument was installed: In 1946 the Supreme Court ruled segregation on buses crossing state lines was illegal. Black Americans were finally allowed to visit out of state.1948 - Discrimination in the armed forces was banned.1948 At this point the Mt. Hope memorial was installed.1952 - First year since 1881 without a known lynching.1954 - Supreme Court declares segregation in schools unconstitutional.1955 - Rosa Parks arrested for riding a bus. Montgomery Bus Boycott began.1957 - Federal troops protect black students terrorized at Little Rock High School.1960 - First student sit-ins against segregation at lunch counters occurs.1961 - Freedom Riders in the South arrests begin.1962 - Federal troops protect James Meredith’s attending Mississippi University.1963 - Medgar Evers, NAACP assassinated. Four black girls killed in church bombing.1964 - Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress. Dr. King awarded Noble Peace Prize.1965 - Malcolm X was assassinated. Voting Rights Act illegal to restrict right to vote.1967 - Supreme Court allows inter-racial marriage.1968 - Martin Luther King was assassinated. In other words, this monument celebrating Confederate Army soldiers was built before black Americans could serve in the military, go to public schools and universities, or be treated equally under the law, and likely thousands of other injustices.  Yet, here we are 50 years after Dr. King was assassinated and we must discuss if we should remove monuments celebrating racism. At a time when we still see our fellow human beings who happen to be black treated unfairly, discriminated against, overly-incarcerated... the list of injustices is long. The Daughters of the Confederacy want us to believe that this is a sentimental reminder of a forgotten time. They likely prefer we go back to not just 50 years ago, but 150 years ago, a thought that would return America to such a time that would primarily oppress a group of fellow Americans - because of their skin color.  To ultimate insult is the monument sits in a cemetery-park maintained by and paid for by all city taxpayers - black, white, and brown. In essence, San Diego is taxing black San Diegans to pay for a monument that supports their time as slaves, and honoring their being bought, sold, beaten, raped, terrorized, while their entire heritage and lineage were decimated.  This is not a tombstone, it is a monument on public property celebrating a racist past. This monument is inappropriate. It should not sit on public land. It should not be paid for by black, brown or white San Diegans who care.  We The People must look past our history and at today. How are we personally and as a community acting and treating others, honoring others, respecting others? Why do we allow monuments celebrating slavery? Is San Diego a city that is truly inclusive or, one in name only? We ask for the removal of this monument to honor every San Diegan as well as the men and women who died bravely defending our nation from secessionist forces seeking to destroy the fabric of America.                                                    . . .Photo used under the Fair Use Act and credited to: San Diego Union Tribune http://www.trbimg.com/img-57bd9f46/turbine/sdut-confederate-flag-civil-war-reaction-2015jun28

CivicArchive
2,763 supporters