Please read this statement from Berklee’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on anti-Black sentiment, bias, discrimination, oppression, and the need to combat these behaviors within our communities.
“...and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.”
— Audre Lorde, excerpt from "A Litany for Survival"
This moment is a mirror and a magnifying glass. This is our moment of reckoning.
The United States of America was “founded” upon already occupied land. In 1492, white Europeans who had been placed in forced exile for practicing a religion that had been prohibited, and punishable by officials within their native homeland, came to the shores of this continent. As these exiled persons arrived in the Americas to build a “new world,” a new life for themselves, they not only brought disease with them—which caused the deaths of countless indigenous people—they also brought their pain and affliction. The harm and trauma experienced by this nation’s “Founding Fathers” namely, their being made to feel as the “other,” as inferior, as “outsiders,” has been repackaged and inflicted upon communities of color for over 500 years. The notion and very real impact of white supremacy has been evidenced and supported throughout our society, our systems, our cities, communities, schools, and places of business and leisure, throughout time and space.
From the time the first ship of enslaved Africans arrived in this nation in 1525, to the official creation of institutional slavery, which lasted between 1619-1865, the practice of sharecropping, Jim Crow segregation (1865-1965), white flight and racial covenants, the conditional ‘freedoms” Black Americans have been offered by way of time-sensitive civil-rights legislation, to the prison industrial complex and beyond, Black Americans have been battle crying for their freedom...for the basic human right to exist in the world. Black Lives Matter is a painful plea for justice. Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan—it is the assertion that the value and importance of human life is worthy to exist, to be protected and made safe.
The Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion speaks the names of our Black brothers and sisters—those who are cisgender and those who are members of the trans community—who have been brutalized and killed simply for existing. We speak the names Rodney King, James Byrd Jr., Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, LaQuan McDonald, Jordan Edwards, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher, Botham Jean, Chanelle Pickett, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Rita Hester, Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and the countless other individuals who’ve endured violence or lost their lives to hatred and bigotry.
We stand committed to supporting our entire Berklee community by leading the charge to foster a culture that is inclusive, respectful, and safe for everyone in our college, Conservatory, Valencia, and online environments. We echo the sentiments of many Berklee community members that institutions acting as systems of oppression—whether explicit or implicitly—have an ethical duty to acknowledge their role in aiding supremacist values and the replication of oppression. Action begins with all of us, together joined in the work of antiracism and social equity.
The dismantling of white supremacy and systemic and institutional racism cannot be accomplished overnight or by one individual or group. Dismantling oppression takes a concerted, meaningful, and intentional effort by all of us, and it starts by looking inward.
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be nonracist, we must be antiracist.”— Angela Y. Davis
For white people who want to begin (or continue) their journey of understanding whiteness and white supremacy, please read:
- Talking About Race by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- How to Be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal Fleming
- We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know by Gary Howard
- All About Love by bell hooks
For Black students seeking language and affirmation, please read:
- The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
- Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Let Nobody Turn Us Around by Manning Marable
- We Speak Your Names by Pearl Cleage
To learn more about institutional racism, the history of Black Americans, and police brutality, please read and/or watch:
- Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 by W.E.B. Du Bois
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
- 13th (Netflix) by Ava Duvernay
- American Son (Netflix) by Christopher Demos-Brown
If you have experienced racism, bias, or discrimination, please consider:
- that experiences of racism can induce stress or trauma. Discrimination-related stress, particularly anti-Black sentiment, has been linked to changes in behavior, decreased sleep, increased anxiety, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression, shortened lifespan, and many other stress responses. The 2015 Stress in America report focused specifically on the health impacts of discrimination. It is very real. You are not alone. It is okay to seek help.
- seeking support from Berklee support services including the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Health and Wellness.
- reporting incidents of racism, discrimination, bias, or harassment to the chief equity officer/Title IX coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 617-747-3156.
If you would like to speak with someone directly, email the Diversity and Inclusion team at email@example.com, the Equity team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our main extension at 617-747-3156.
Please take care of yourselves and others, exercise self-care, utilize your support systems, and seek help as needed. Let us move forward, creating a more just environment with an ethic of care, together.
—The Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion