Pratt Institute MFA

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Pratt Artists Against White Supremacy

 

August 14, 2017

 

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 ’17
Adriana Green, MFA in Writing & Activism ’17
Sade LaNay, MFA in Writing & Activism ’17
Ana Reyes-Bonar, MFA in Writing & Activism ’17
Lyric Hunter, MFA in Writing & Activism ’17
Oskar Peacock, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Wendy Taliaferro, Arts & Cultural Management ’17
Leah Constantine, Museums & Digital Culture ’18
Rijard Bergeron, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Rachel Simons, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Parker Peterson, Arts & Cultural Management ’17
Geoffrey Olsen, MFA in Writing & Activism ’17
Lauren La Melle, MA in Media Studies ’18
Jared Hudson, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Rose Matías, Community Member
Maria Baker, MFA in Writing & Activism ’17
Luke Degnan, MFA in Writing & Activism ’16
Maria Dizzia, Community Member
Susan Park, Community Member
Lillian L. Matías, Community Member
Jenna Krasowski, Community Member
Chaya Babu, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Angelica Matías, University of Rochester
Kate Gavino, BFA in Writing ’11
Bianca Norris, BFA Fashion Design ’17
Allison Martell, BFA Fashion Design ’17
Jeremy Wood, BFA Fashion Design ’18
Maya Tajchman, BFA in Writing ’18
Victoria Brodie, BFA in Writing Alum
Corey Arena, B. Architecture ’19
Adrian Shirk, BFA in Writing ’11
Beth Loffreda, Chair of Writing Department
Todd Shalom, Pratt Faculty
Jane South, Chair of Pratt Fine Arts
Claire Donato, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA Writing Program
James Hannaham, Associate Professor, Writing Department
Casey Llewellyn, Community Member
Chelsea Klopp, BFA in Writing ’16
Christian Hawkey, Pratt MFA in Writing Faculty
Cecilia Muhlstein, Pratt Faculty
Penelope Bloodworth, Community Member from Unnameable Books
Sonia Farmer, Writing Alum ’09
Peter Catalanotto, Pratt BFA , Faculty Writing Program
Jazmin Peralta, Center for Equity & Inclusion
Lucy Ives, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA Writing Program
Jeff T. Johnson, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA Writing Program
Mirene Arsanios, Pratt MFA in Writing Faculty
Karisha Quiogue, B. Architecture ’16
Victoria Brodie, Pratt BFA Writing Alumni
Diana Cage, Adjunct Associate Professor, BFA Writing Program
Maria Damon, Writing Program & HMS faculty
Victoria Brodie, Pratt BFA Writing Alumni
Leah Trojan, BFA in Fashion Design ’15
Sarah Riggs, Visiting Faculty
Ailsa Forlenza, BFA in Writing Alumni
Gina Zucker, Visiting Assistant Professor, BFA
Rachel Levitsky, Professor, Pratt Institute
Laura Elrick, Pratt Writing Department Faculty
Shaina Garfield, BID ’18
Leah Trojan, BFA in Fashion Design ’15
Anna Moschovakis, Faculty, MFA in Writing
Susan Fedynak, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Freya Tamayo, Visiting assistant professor
Phoebe Glick, MFA in Writing & Activism ’16
Tara Ali-Khan, BID ’17
Natalie Riquelmy, MFA in Writing & Activism ’18
Gina Abelkop, University of GA