Dear Bank Street Community,
Over the last six years, the Bank Street College Social Justice and Equity Committee (SJEC) has served as an interracial affinity space with the goal of creating a learning community to support the development of anti-racist/anti-bias awareness and racial consciousness. These meetings were created with the intention of productively interrogating systems of oppression and highlighting how they manifest within our community. We have certainly seen progress in the course of these conversations and it is clear for us that this is ongoing work.
We know that equity-based work requires commitment and stamina and, too often, the brunt of this work is placed on the shoulders, backs, and necks of Black people to carry. We also need to name that Black women are disproportionately positioned to hold space for learning and growth even when working in partnership with colleagues from other racialized groups. This disproportionately places Black colleagues in the tenuous position of “doing the work” even as others are asked to do so. It also creates conditions where some are unfairly targeted when comfort is challenged and establishes institutional competition amongst those who are deemed “expert” as though there is one way to engage in this work. Unfortunately, this is a reality that is mimicked among many organizations.
America’s legacy of enslavement produced a racial caste system and institutional racism—the influences are deep and often nuanced. Therefore our work must, in addition to supporting the holistic and appropriate development of our students, intentionally focus on our individual and communal capacity to interrupt the ways this legacy manifests here at Bank Street. This is the work. It is deep and exhausting work that requires collective effort.
We have always stood in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives because silence is not, nor has it ever been, a viable option. Silence is felt deeply, it connotes complicity, and it cuts. To that end, we will continue to support the processing of these conversations for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Anti-Black racism exists in all communities and for those of us who identify as BIPOC, we must hold ourselves accountable to have these conversations within our communities. For those who identify as BIPOC, you are invited to continue this conversation in affinity group meetings being held on July 8 and August 5 to continue processing.
We are also sharing communications from several groups expressing solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and in support of colleagues. Moving forward, we will be posting these communications directly on our webpage. Thank you to the members of the Collegewide Asian American and Pacific Islanders Affinity Group, the Collegewide Latinx Affinity Group, and the White Anti-Racist Affinity Groups.
Akilah Rosado & Sarah Willis
Social Justice and Equity Committee Co-Chairs