Dear Colleagues, Students and Community,
I am a 62-year-old white woman with all the attendant privilege that my skin color provides. Bearing witness to stories from people of color is one way I am able to be present in this moment. I am uncomfortable with these stories, as we all should be. I share this 5-minute clip of Amber Ruffin, a comedic writer and frequent guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers, as a way to say, THIS.
Listening is integral to communication. For me, now is a time to listen and to feel the realities of the majority of Americans who suffer the effects of systemic racism. I need to hear their stories, to feel their reality, to be uncomfortable. I give money to associated social causes, but too often in our culture those of us who can, give money as a way to quickly disperse our social responsibilities. This moment calls for listening and bearing witness, at the least. As faculty and staff in a College of Fine and Applied Arts, we have many ways to encourage and amplify the voices of those who suffer currently and whose families and communities have suffered historically. May we listen and hear those voices. May we create opportunities to foster creative expressions and build stronger systems that value all life - human, animal and plant - for our students and ourselves. It's impossible for me to feel optimistic about the times we live in, from the climate crisis, to the pandemic, to the failure of our nation to abide anywhere close to the ideals of our constitution.
Lest I fall into despair, I seek wise words I can listen to, words that encourage me to understand that hope is a reasonable and necessary act of resistance. So I share some of these with you.
“Despair demands less of us, it’s more predictable, and in a sad way safer. Authentic hope requires clarity—seeing the troubles in this world—and imagination, seeing what might lie beyond these situations that are perhaps not inevitable and immutable.” Rebecca Solnit, in Hope in the Dark
Please, let's listen, be uncomfortable, and with authentic hope and imagination work to create a better world for our young people and our collective selves.
Janice T. Pope, PhD
Interim Dean, Fine & Applied Arts
Appalachian State University