Structures of Power, Racism, and Inequity Within our Community

This message was sent to the CalArts community from CalArts President Ravi Rajan and Provost Tracie Costantino on the structures of power, racism, and inequity within our community.

CalArts stands in solidarity with all those who oppose injustice. Everything we have witnessed over the last few weeks has emphasized the need for us to engage in conversations and self-reflection. As a community, we want to emphasize the importance of open dialogue and ongoing support for all those who contribute to the whole of the CalArts community. Whether it be through the artistic contributions of our students, staff, and faculty, or our work in larger communities, we are dedicated to establishing our footprint as one that values diversity, insists on equity, embraces individuality, and is attentive to the voices in our community.

This is a moment to examine our practices and listen to the experiences of CalArtians, in an effort to listen and improve. 

Beginning next week, Eva Graham, the Institute Diversity Officer, has planned community conversations to provide opportunities for dialogue and healing, and to compassionately talk about these matters openly and honestly. Announcements about these will come from Eva early next week.

In this moment we must also act decisively to root out the structural racism and inequity that exists at CalArts. We are forming a task force that will include students, faculty, staff, and alum to identify seen and unseen structures of power, racism, and inequity within our community and our practices, and make concrete, actionable recommendations on how to address them. The task force’s work will be shared widely among our community, so all can see its value and hold us accountable. 

Real change will take persistence. The task force’s work will continue for as long as it takes to bring about demonstrable change and to ensure that progress remains steady, even in this uncertain time of the pandemic. To do this, we will have to say and do hard things. Things that make us uncomfortable. But this is necessary for change to happen.

In addition to looking internally, we are also committed to standing with the many organizations doing the work to call out systemic racism and inequalities in society. We show that support through assisting our community of artists in demonstrating with these groups through peaceful civic action, as well as donating funds directly to them.

For those of you who wish to take more immediate action focused on the specific issues of white supremacy, police brutality, and systemic racism, below are a list of some of the organizations working on these important issues. Many of them have opportunities to volunteer, support, and/or donate:

As an organization, we have not always done well. Our efforts to change have not always rendered actions that are meaningfully felt by our students and employees. To those of you who have been affected by these kinds of issues, we are sorry. We pledge today that we will create real actions that will be felt, that will begin to illuminate hidden structures and biases at CalArts, and that will strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for our students, faculty, and staff. We cannot let this just be a passing moment, we cannot slip into numbness, and we cannot continue to overlook the effects systemic racism has upon our community of artists.