June 4, 2020
Dear MICA Campus Community,
This is the follow-up communication promised in my previous campus memo. The June 1 expression of Solidarity for Black Lives Matter and Against Discrimination is MICA’s institutional statement that joins a global call for racial justice and change in response to the brutal and senseless killings of Black people in this country. It is intended to share resources for both support and activation of our campus community, as well as information about our collective work and concrete actions in effecting change here at MICA and beyond.
We share a rawness and an exhaustion, and many among us live with historical wounds compounded by present-day pain, that no words alone are enough to heal. No memo or message can unwind the systemic racism that this country is built upon. At times like this when we are angry, aggrieved, and frustrated, it is particularly important to remind ourselves that, at MICA, we belong to a community and an ongoing movement for change. And although we might not have the ability to transform the world and our own progress might not be as swift as we would like, we are determined to start change where we are and where we can. We must lean on each other for mutual support and united impact.
Our Specific Call to Action
Since the June 1 Statement, a number of students have asked if MICA is donating to support the current protests and related actions. MICA’s standing policy is to engage in action rather than making donations to other non-profits, as there are numerous worthy causes that are important to our community members and it is impossible to differentiate which ones should be financially supported. However, MICA has supported financially in modest ways when warranted Baltimore-based organizations with a relationship to MICA. In response to student desire for MICA to demonstrate financial support in this extraordinary time, the College will take an exceptional step that still honors our commitment to Baltimore while encouraging our community members to support organizations of their choice.
Instead of MICA selecting a specific destination for support, the administration is creating a Baltimore Racial Justice Fund of $15,000 to provide a 1-to-1 match of donations of up to $500 per contributor made by our faculty, staff, and students to other relevant non-profit organizations in the City of Baltimore. The match will be provided promptly on a first-come-first-matched basis. Please see Appendix for examples of worthy organizations in Baltimore, but you can choose others in our city. Further details on the program will be provided on the Baltimore Racial Justice Fund website launching next week; please stay tuned.
The Appendix also contains resources for MICA community members to consider to lend their support locally and nationally. Special thanks to MICA students Mimo Muturi, Claire Fraleigh, Maddie Olsen, and others for advocating for and contributing to the compilation.
MICA will also commit to focusing the upcoming academic year’s Mixed Media Speaker Series to the themes of race, human rights, and social justice. Additionally, the Series will expand the proposal process to include ideas from students, faculty, and staff to ensure a broad, diverse, and relevant season of speakers and activities.
Other efforts will be shaped as the new academic year unfolds, as our community dialogue unfolds, and as our planning efforts continue.
Our Community of Care Activities & Resources
The road to social and racial justice involves a long march and not a short sprint. We are collectively coping with the burden and blunt force of infuriating and dispiriting roadblocks right now. MICA is a place where people should feel a sense of belonging. Let me share things we can do today to ensure that this community is the ethical, caring community we all take pride in.
Even though we are dispersed across the nation and the world, it is important that we have opportunities to gather for those who wish to do so. Three events are being planned for the MICA community in the near future:
- Friday, June 5, at 12:00 noon (ET) – Faculty members Dr. Mel Lewis and Unique Robinson will facilitate a forum for Black students, faculty, and staff.
- Wednesday, June 10, at 1:00 p.m. (ET) – Mel and Unique will facilitate a forum for POC faculty, staff, and students.
- Friday, June 12 at 12:30 pm (ET) – Dr. Kalima Young will present her work on Black Baltimorian artists as cultural workers and lead a virtual community gathering for all members of the MICA community.
Interested parties please hold these times. Event and Zoom link information will be provided tomorrow morning via email and social media to the MICA community.
As encouraged in the June 1 Statement, please reach out to your Black peers and friends, ask if they are okay and make sure they know that you are there to listen and support.
Those of us who grew up in the United States have grown up surrounded by racist influences, both overt and covert. Many of us – either consciously or subconsciously – maintain inequitable systems of power. It is, therefore, important for us to actively explore with ourselves and with each other the meaning, implication, and accountability of unearned privilege. The Appendix offers resources for this necessary exploration for each of us and with one another, along with self-care and other information that I hope you will find useful.
Our Ongoing Commitments and Actions
As an encouragement for our continued efforts to ensure progress in a steady course towards institutional change and community actions, I’d like to describe some recent MICA initiatives that represent critical actions in support of Black students, faculty, and staff, as well as historically marginalized individuals and communities in our city:
- Our DEIG commitment has led to the expansion of the Center for Identity & Inclusion, increased faculty and staff diversity, and a path to accelerate substantive curricular reforms centered on racial diversity, intercultural awareness, and inclusive teaching and learning. Specifically, in the upcoming academic year, the appointment of Dr. Mel Lewis who will be starting this fall as chair of Humanistic studies and Dr. Raél Salley, chair of Art History who began in August 2019. Both areas have been previously cited by students as in need of curricular reform.
- The ADCAP program, our first-ever Baltimore youth college pipeline program, and corresponding fundraising efforts that have led to nine full scholarships to support debt-free studies at MICA for the first ADCAP graduates this fall, all of whom are African-American. These are MICA’s first-ever full scholarships.
- The MICA-led Korner Boyz Enterprises project that empowers Black youth entrepreneurs has led to for a larger collaborative initiative of Youth Rising Coalition,
- The Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network (BCAN) initiative that serves a diverse group of creative entrepreneurs in Baltimore; the vast majority of participants are People of Color.
- The first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at MICA is close to being identified as the national search is concluding. This is a critical position intended to both hold the College accountable and provide support for under-represented members of our community. This position reports to Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Dr. Sheri Parks, MICA’s highest ranking African-American officer.
- For a fuller set of MICA’s actions over time in Baltimore and contributions to equitable community strengthening, see the 2019 national report of The Overlooked Anchor.
Our Strategic Plan 2021-2026, currently in development, has “Transform MICA through DEIG” and ‘Activate Creative Agency with Baltimore and the World” as two key themes. Both themes feature strategic objectives and foci that continue to build towards social and racial justice at MICA, in our City, and beyond. Over the next few months, MICA community members have the opportunity to further shape our Strategic Plan 2021-2026 together.
At MICA, we believe in art, design and education being a force for positive change. We believe in the power to challenge ourselves to be better. And we believe in the power of this community to care for our friends, colleagues, and peers. In the June 1 Statement, I asked all of us to unite in acting with all our might as individuals and as a college community to be a part of the change that must happen to break structural racism and make social justice real. I am grateful to be in this fight and on this journey with you.
Appendix: A Compilation of Resources
Resources for Donation Possibilities
Possible Baltimore-Based Organizations for MICA Donation Matches
Additional Donation Possibilities
- Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
- The Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Homeless Black Trans Women Fund
- Black Visions Collective
Resources for Improvement, Support, and Learning
- Color of Change (resources for ending inequitable practices)
- Anguish and Action (resources for creating a more just world)
- 5 Ways to Show Up for Racial Justice
- Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture (includes a racial trauma toolkit)
- Irresistible (healing justice podcast)
- Black & Asian American Solidarity Reading List
- Dismantling Racism Workbook
- Resources for White Allies
- Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture
- 20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community
- Anti-racism Resources for White People
Resources for Protestors
- blacklivesmatters.carrd.co (Protest Resources)
- Legal Support Hotlines (National Lawyers Guild)
- Know Your Rights (ACLU)
- Safety During Protests (Amnesty International)
Resources for Self-Care and Mental Health
- Supporting Black LGBTQ Mental Health
- The Loveland Therapy Fund (financial assistance for Black women and girls)
- 4-7-8 Breathing
- Body Scan Meditation
- Tips for Self-Care: When Police Brutality Has You Questioning Humanity and Social Media is Enough
- Emotionally Restorative Self Care: People of Color
- Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (5 Free Virtual Therapy Sessions for Black Americans)
- Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Trauma (guided meditation)
- The Safe Place (mental health app geared towards the Black community)