In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist. – ANGELA Y. DAVIS
We in the Department of Digital Media & Design feel the pain, sadness, and frustration caused by the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and the innumerable Black citizens whose lives who were cut short by racial injustice in our nation. Say their names.
In honor of those lost and in protection of our collective, societal future, I challenge each of us to commit to being ANTI-RACIST. We can no longer turn away and remain silent – it is not enough to be non-racist, we must stand together, act for social justice, and become actively conscious about race and racism in our daily lives. This is the only way that we can transform the world around us to become a more just and peaceful society.
In our departmental mission, we state that, “…we encourage students to find and express their voice, building from their unique background and perspective. We acknowledge that a diversity of thought and expression is needed in today’s society and see great promise in our DMD students’ ability to make a difference in the world as future digital media content creators, distributors, and analyzers.”
These words are more significant now than ever. Ironically, it is only because Americans carry smartphones – with high definition cameras connected to the internet – that these horrific acts of violence are being brought to light, the same tools that we embrace in Digital Media & Design for content creation and distribution. As a creative community with talents in digital media, each one of us has the potential to make a positive impact, realize complex ideas, empower those whose voices are silenced by mainstream media, and amplify those voices in the digital sphere. This moment is a call to action for each of us to rise up and use our talents to spark meaningful conversations, engage in digital advocacy projects, and share our unique voices and diverse backgrounds.
DMD has become known for its collaborations around social justice through partnerships with the Dodd Center, the Human Rights Institute, Global Affairs, UConn Archives, and our many external nonprofit partners around the state, who we have helped realize professional digital products to support their missions. We have begun working closely with our Office for Diversity and Inclusion and our Cultural Centers, and we formed a departmental Inclusion Committee in 2019. However, confronting and fighting systemic racism requires intentionality, commitment, and coordinated efforts by the entire community.
We join our colleagues at the University of Connecticut in committing to anti-racism, share this statement on racial injustice, and invite you to read those of the Dodd Center and Human Rights Institute, the Africana Studies Institute, interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and programs, and the President and Provost. Together, we affirm our commitment to making the struggle against White supremacy and systemic racism central to our work in building an equitable and just campus community and society
To our black students, faculty, and friends, please know that your DMD family stands with you in solidarity. We hear you, we share your outrage, and we empathize with your pain. And I ask everyone in our community, right now, to reach out to and support our friends of color, who are truly suffering during this time of national crisis, both from racial injustice and the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted minority groups.
There are many resources available to support this work, but a particularly meaningful one is the National Museum of African American History and Culture‘s “Talking About Race” site. I also invite you to join the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and stakeholders from across the state for Truth & Reconciliation: A Conversation about Race and Policing at 11am tomorrow, Friday, June 5.
Finally, over the next month, we will be sharing via social media examples of recently created student projects that engage social justice issues, address racism and embrace cultural identity. Please follow us on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to view the works and help amplify our UConn DMD students’ voices as we celebrate their creativity and passion as they learn that they have the power to bring change to the world.
In solidarity, but with hope,