Critical work to unite as a community: A statement by RAC’s Executive Director
Dear Friends of Richmond Art Center,
As I take over the helm of Richmond Art Center, my heart is heavy mourning the murder of George Floyd and the over 100,000 lives lost during the past months of coronavirus pandemic. This, of course, is on top of the losses of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others.
I am outraged and saddened by their murders. However, outrage is not enough. As philanthropy shifts its response to support our communities’ recovery, we wholeheartedly agree not to go back to the so called “normal”.
Racism has always existed—it is deeply rooted in America. The horrific events of the past few weeks remind us that we have a long way to go to fight for justice. Enough is enough. The time to have courageous conversations about the realities of systemic racism, white supremacy and inequities is past due. It is a time of action, a time to unite and support each other.
We at Richmond Art Center stand with those suffering in Minneapolis and across the nation in the fight for justice in this tragic time. We condemn violence against Black communities. We stand in solidarity with people protesting police brutality, violence towards the Black Community, and systemic racism. However, for these words to be more than a cliché, we know we need to do work in-house.
I want to acknowledge the impact these inequalities our youth and families endure on so many levels, as well as the many barriers our colleagues of color face daily. I am committed to lead the Art Center with values at the forefront of integrity, compassion, respect, excellence, courage and diversity. We all need to learn about the history we have ignored, acknowledge our privileges, dive deep into the structure of our programs, practices, policies, and when necessary, dismantle and rebuild.
To do this critical work, we cannot do it alone and we need to unite as a community. It is important to take care of and check in with each other.
I invite you to act. Here are a few ways:
- Sign a petition demanding justice for George Floyd
- Read and then do the reflective work needed
- Don’t be a bystander, learn what to do if you witness a racist assault
- Donate to bail out protestors
- Letter templates to reallocate police budgets to community resources
- Petition for Breonna Taylor
- Resources for non-black people of color in our community
I thank you in advance for doing your part and look forward to a better future for our communities and our country.
José R. Rivera