We, the alumni and current students of Pratt’s MFA in Writing & Activism program, stand in solidarity with Charlottesville, VA. We stand in solidarity with the citizens of color in Charlottesville, VA in this moment of [unrest] and forever. To them, we would like to express our great respect, love, and support. We stand in solidarity with the removal of the Robert E. Lee Statue from Emancipation Park. We stand in solidarity against white supremacy. We denounce any action (taken in the name of) white supremacy. We stand in solidarity with the marginalized people making their daily lives in a space founded on oppression.
We are a program based in Brooklyn and comprised of students from many different places; our relationship to Charlottesville is one of wholehearted support for the work being done on the ground. As artists, we understand the role art plays in shaping history. We are committed to doing work that interrogates our political, temporal, and physical contexts. We pledge to make work that questions, undermines, and fights white supremacy in all its forms. We stand in solidarity with the work of the UVA Graduate Coalition for the syllabus about the history of Charlottesville and its relationship with white supremacy. We stand in solidarity with the organizations in the city fighting inequality and are grateful for the list of resources compiled by Sara Benincasa and will pledge what we can financially for the residents of Charlottesville, VA. We offer our care to the bodies in danger and under physical threat of white supremacy.
In the wake of antagonistic and incendiary acts organized in the name of patriotism, but with no other motive other than to exact the same brand of violence that eradicated the voices of protesters like Fred Hampton and Huey P. Newton, it becomes crucial to interrogate what narratives our national monuments are contributing to and perpetuating. The action is the call; we are calling out the agents of white supremacy, and inviting those against it to take action, be heard, interrogate. Like Nina Simone, we believe an artist's’ duty is to reflect the times and tell the truth. All white people benefit from white supremacy. Yes, white supremacist terrorism can happen in 2017, the same way it happened in 2016, in 2015, in 1967, in 1915, in 1492 – not only are white supremacist values carried by people in our society, they are carried in the representations of history we engage with every day, like the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park.
Robert E. Lee was a Confederate leader, which is to say, an advocate for a regime that sought to maintain the violent, racist, and oppressive economic structure of slavery--a pervasive system that continues to impact the daily lives of Black and brown people across the country, and beyond. That the statue of a man who fought for the enslavement of Black people now sits in a public space called Emancipation Park, reflects the warping and normalization of historical anti-Blackness. This warping of history is insidious and encourages violence like that of this weekend’s riots.
The Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park was not commissioned during or directly after the Civil War, it was commissioned, designed, and erected during the height of Jim Crow. It must never be believed that any monuments to the confederacy are simply historical structures of patriotic commemoration when they are, in fact, tools of intimidation--items of terror whose racist history breed, activate, and affirm heinous demonstrations like what has taken place in Charlottesville. Any racist monument erected atop american soil which has been steeped in the blood of Black and brown people is not honorable: it is the utmost disrespect and of the highest disgrace.
"Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power - not because they don't see it, but because they see it and they want it not to exist." - bell hooks
Ways to support and educate:
Link to the UVA Graduate Coalition's syllabus about white supremacy in Charlottesville: https://tinyurl.com/yd8az9fm
Link to help Unity C-ville as they raise funds to support the victims of the terrorist attacks in Charlottesville, VA: https://www.gofundme.com/united-cville-victim-relief
Link to educate yourself with some details on the monument to Robert E. Lee: https://tinyurl.com/y8q3lb46
Link to learn about other places working to remove monuments to white supremacy: http://takeemdownnola.org
Link to list of resources compiled by Sara Benincasa: https://tinyurl.com/ycc99597
In solidarity, The Cohort
Note: If you are NOT a member of the Pratt MFA in Writing & Activism community but feel this message resonates with you, please feel free to add your name as well!
Sasha Banks, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Adriana Green, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Sade LaNay, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Ana Reyes-Bonar, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Lyric Hunter, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Oskar Peacock, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Wendy Taliaferro, Arts & Cultural Management '17Leah Constantine, Museums & Digital Culture '18Rijard Bergeron, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Rachel Simons, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Parker Peterson, Arts & Cultural Management '17Geoffrey Olsen, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Lauren La Melle, MA in Media Studies '18Jared Hudson, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Rose Matías, Community MemberMaria Baker, MFA in Writing & Activism '17Luke Degnan, MFA in Writing & Activism '16Maria Dizzia, Community MemberSusan Park, Community MemberLillian L. Matías, Community MemberJenna Krasowski, Community MemberChaya Babu, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Angelica Matías, University of RochesterKate Gavino, BFA in Writing '11Bianca Norris, BFA Fashion Design '17Allison Martell, BFA Fashion Design '17Jeremy Wood, BFA Fashion Design '18Maya Tajchman, BFA in Writing '18Victoria Brodie, BFA in Writing AlumCorey Arena, B. Architecture '19Adrian Shirk, BFA in Writing '11Beth Loffreda, Chair of Writing Department Todd Shalom, Pratt FacultyJane South, Chair of Pratt Fine ArtsClaire Donato, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA Writing ProgramJames Hannaham, Associate Professor, Writing DepartmentCasey Llewellyn, Community MemberChelsea Klopp, BFA in Writing '16Christian Hawkey, Pratt MFA in Writing FacultyCecilia Muhlstein, Pratt FacultyPenelope Bloodworth, Community Member from Unnameable BooksSonia Farmer, Writing Alum '09Peter Catalanotto, Pratt BFA , Faculty Writing ProgramJazmin Peralta, Center for Equity & Inclusion Lucy Ives, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA Writing ProgramJeff T. Johnson, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA Writing ProgramMirene Arsanios, Pratt MFA in Writing FacultyKarisha Quiogue, B. Architecture '16Victoria Brodie, Pratt BFA Writing AlumniDiana Cage, Adjunct Associate Professor, BFA Writing ProgramMaria Damon, Writing Program & HMS facultyVictoria Brodie, Pratt BFA Writing AlumniLeah Trojan, BFA in Fashion Design '15Sarah Riggs, Visiting FacultyAilsa Forlenza, BFA in Writing AlumniGina Zucker, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFARachel Levitsky, Professor, Pratt InstituteLaura Elrick, Pratt Writing Department FacultyShaina Garfield, BID '18Leah Trojan, BFA in Fashion Design '15Anna Moschovakis, Faculty, MFA in WritingSusan Fedynak, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Freya Tamayo, Visiting assistant professorPhoebe Glick, MFA in Writing & Activism '16Tara Ali-Khan, BID '17 Natalie Riquelmy, MFA in Writing & Activism '18Gina Abelkop, University of GA