Dear Department of Music students, faculty, and staff,
We write to you today to express our deep concern over the recent murders of Black Americans at the hands of police and vigilantes including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. We acknowledge the pain and anger that these injustices have engendered in millions of people throughout the country and the world and resulted in widespread protests.
We know that many of you have worked over the course of your professional and personal lives to combat systemic racism; we saw this as recently as in the last few years in response to Silent Sam and its removal. The Department of Music released a statement at that time to express our resistance to the statue’s return to campus, which thankfully has not transpired. We have also posted on our departmental website a statement of diversity that reads, in part, “Our commitment to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and safe department is consistent with upholding and embracing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s policy statement of non-discrimination. Moreover, our life’s work in music, the arts, and the study of the human experience in music compels us to reject the spirit and logic behind any form of discrimination.”
But as some of you have reminded us, words need to be put into positive and productive action, and this involves taking a close look at everything we do as a department. Please know that members of the department’s staff and faculty have already begun this work, and we want to state our commitment to initiating and supporting, in particular, antiracism efforts in our teaching and programming. As we think through possible actions, we welcome any ideas and resources that you have found to be informative at this particular time in our collective history. Rest assured that you will be heard, and that we will pursue steps toward tangible change over the coming year and in the years to come.
We stand in solidarity with the peaceful protesters who are exercising their constitutional rights to condemn police brutality and systemic racism throughout the country. We also stand in solidarity with Black students, colleagues, and staff in our department and throughout campus. We recognize that it is our own responsibility to continue to educate ourselves in how systemic racism structures life for so many of our students, colleagues, and co-workers on a daily basis and to act on changing those structures from departmental practices and programming. It is our hope that we can contribute effectively to shaping a culture in the department where every life is valued and respected, and that we remind ourselves every day that actions speak louder than words.
To add your voice to the conversation, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.