June 24, 2020

To the Trinity Theater and Dance Community,

We strongly condemn any form of bigotry, racism, and anti-Blackness. We stand in solidarity with the uprisings taking place across the country in the wake of the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks and so many others. We add our voices to all those who are proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.” We agree that we need to do better and that this “WE” has many layers and levels, from our society at large, to Trinity, to the Theater and Dance Department, to each of us personally.

We take responsibility for our own culpability and we are keenly aware of the need to address systemic racism, white privilege, violence against Black and POC students, and sexual assault on our campus. We are disgusted and strongly refute the bullying and extremely damaging Instagram accounts that have recently emerged to silence the Trinity students who are bravely speaking out on @blackatTrin and @Trinsurvivors. The incidents described in their posts are not acceptable and the Department of Theater and Dance must create a culture of safety and accountability where BIPOC students feel seen and honored, and students feel safe physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The history of theater and dance in America is inextricable from white supremacy and inequity and we are committed to a curriculum and pedagogy that offer performance as a tool for resistance rather than a re-entrenchment of power. Theater and Dance should help us celebrate and imagine new futures. The last few weeks have made it even more clear that white faculty cannot simply be “not racist,” but must be actively working to make our pedagogy, curriculum, studios, and theaters anti-racist.

We apologize that we have not spoken sooner and appreciate that students have raised their voices and pushed us to publicly address these issues. As a department we have been discussing concrete actions to take, but the privilege to discuss rather than to act is part of how white complicity operates.

As first steps we commit to:

  • Review our curriculum and core requirements, diversifying the readings, viewings, and methodologies, ensuring that they amplify BIPOC voices and highlight the ways those communities have often been the invisibilized foundation on which American theater and dance practice is built.
  • Look for ways to diversify our faculty and integrate the voices of BIPOC faculty into our core mission in a manner that honors and compensates their contribution.
  • Work to redistribute departmental and collegiate resources to support local BIPOC artists so that the college can be an accomplice in their success rather than a gatekeeper.
  • Zero tolerance for racial and sexual violence. More clearly communicate the existing pathways for reporting racial and sexual violence to students and visiting faculty.
  • Include more work by BIPOC artists in our Theater and Dance programming.
  • Participate as a faculty in anti-racism trainings this summer and fall and make trainings available to students who want to participate in the coming school year and beyond.
  • Holding a Zoom listening session in July for departmental students to share their concerns. We will send a survey about possible meeting times in the coming weeks and hope you will attend.

We understand the need to be transparent about the measures we are taking, and we welcome your input. We will update you over the summer and the coming school year as these efforts continue.

To “do better,” to work towards justice, is a process and we know that we will try and fail along the way. We highly appreciate the students who took initiative and caringly called us into accountability. This is just the beginning and we hope to be part of a positive change in the department, at Trinity, and in Hartford.

Sincerely yours,

Barbara Karger
Peter Kyle
Rebecca Pappas
Mitch Polin
Katharine Power
Michael Preston
Rachna Agrawal
Lesley Farlow
Rebecca Goodheart
Michelle Hendrick
Lisa Matias
Joni Weisfeld