May 31, 2020
In this time of anguish and righteous anger, Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre stand in solidarity with our beloved Black colleagues and friends, teachers, students, alumni, artists, audiences, and fellow citizens in New Haven and around the world.
We grieve the unconscionable losses of life and liberty we have witnessed, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among countless others. We see and acknowledge the pain of Black people in the United States through four centuries of oppression.
We are outraged by ongoing, state-sanctioned violence against Black people, and by the official posture of the executive branch of our federal government to incite still more racist violence. We also recognize that racism and white supremacy are often perpetuated and supported by institutions.
In alignment with our core values, we bolster our commitment to interrogating our assumptions and work; to dismantling racism and white supremacy in our own school and theater; and to making YSD/YRT safe and equitable places for our Black colleagues—and all of our colleagues of color—to thrive in life and art.
Drama is action: in the wider world, as in the theater, the actions we must take are to believe and lift up the lived experiences of Black people, and to mobilize our privilege in service of justice for them.
The School and the Rep invite your partnership in this work and welcome your candor in holding us accountable.
June 10, 2020
The crisis that grips our nation is ongoing, as violence against Black people continues and requires our dedicated attention. To be in solidarity with our Black colleagues means taking anti-racist action and holding ourselves accountable––not just in this moment, but consistently as part of our mission and commitment to our community members. We must acknowledge transparently key failings of our school and theatre throughout their histories, as well as sharing our ongoing and new commitments to create equity in our organization.
We are grateful that our efforts have been informed and energized by close questioning and encouragement from alumni and friends, and particularly by the June 1 meeting of the School’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group, attended by approximately 80 students, interns, faculty, and staff. Informed by that gathering, we want to acknowledge with sadness the deaths of Tony McDade and Nina Pop, and the national disgrace of historic and ongoing violence against queer and trans Black people and Black women. Black lives matter.
This is a critical moment for us to speak and the work we have to do must be focused and continuous. We must also make concentrated efforts to listen more deeply, and resist reactive and generally unhelpful attempts to find quick “answers” or “solutions.” Our national crisis is wide in scope: undoing white supremacy demands a long span of attention both to ongoing police brutality, and to governmental policies and practices for which we share responsibility with our fellow citizens.
At the same time, we have an immediate responsibility here at Yale not just to do better, but to do differently. Our organization has not paid enough attention to the lived experiences of Black students, interns, faculty, staff, alumni, members of our audience, and fellow residents of New Haven, nor have we understood the depth of pain that has gone unaddressed in our community both past and present. We know that formal, institutionalized statements offering solidarity without accountability measures are not enough and have the potential to do further harm. Therefore, we commit to:
- Supporting the efforts of all members of the Yale University community focused on anti-racist artistic and creative practice, management, teaching, scholarship, and campus life, including public safety;
- Developing curricula in anti-racism for every discipline of the theater taught at the School of Drama, to guide both classroom instruction and production;
- Centering the creative work of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color theater makers in Yale Repertory Theatre commissioning, development, season planning, and production;
- Ongoing collaboration with faculty member Carmen Morgan and our colleagues at artEquity, to continue and further develop workshops designed to help students, faculty, and staff to understand the practice of anti-racist activism, with added emphasis in 2020-21 on interrupting microaggressions in our community;
- Continued full-fee support for any member of the student body, faculty, staff, and board to attend the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Undoing Racism and Community Organizing Workshop;
- Interrogating and improving our recruitment, admissions, hiring, onboarding, and retention processes with the aims of further lowering barriers to entry and fostering a more inclusive, welcoming, and sustaining community;
- Analyzing and adjusting our need-based financial aid policies, with specific attention to the economic impacts of COVID-19, to ensure that all students have equitable access to resources in graduate school;
- Maintaining reliable channels for reporting and remedy of disrespect, discrimination, and harassment in all its forms;
- Revamping our performance evaluation system to focus on wellness for all employees and, for supervisors and faculty, to develop criteria for measurable anti-racist leadership in the workplace and classroom, as well as the management of curricula, and the creation of syllabi;
- Greater institutional acknowledgement and celebration of under-recognized histories and events, beginning with marking Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, as an annual day of institutional observance and focus with no other commitments for employees than celebration and/or reflection, effective June 19th, 2020;
- Explicitly and prominently sharing on our website, and in other communications to our community and the field, the history and progression of our organization’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, including resources for self-study;
- Promoting engagement of our community with Greater New Haven colleagues who work on the front lines of anti-racist activism, the arts, education, and community organizing, through advocacy, partnership, and resource sharing. We begin today by shining a light on the work of five local organizations, all led or co-led by People of Color, whose vital work we admire, and whom we encourage you to support as you are able:
In the interest of fairness, we enthusiastically exhort all of our white colleagues and friends to do the lion’s share of the work to make ours an effectively anti-racist organization. Equitable sharing of power demands speech and action as well as humility from those who have benefited most from white supremacy.
So that we can all learn more through self-study, we take this opportunity to advance the work of our current students, recent alumni, and their colleagues who are committing to promoting Black authors, and Black-owned bookshops. Please visit their Facebook Page here.
We will continue to use our positional power to amplify the calls to action of our colleagues who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We believe in the enormous power of theater—indeed, of all dramatic story-telling—to change the world. But we will not rest in our efforts to change our institution, to hasten long overdue redress of wrongs, and to fashion a theater field ever in service to, and enriched by, the extraordinary creativity of Black students, artists, faculty, and staff members with whom we are privileged to collaborate.
We have named only early steps. We know that more are required, including transparent reports here at Yale and nationwide. Our goal is an accountably inclusive and equitable environment for all in our community: we believe that anti-racism must be the illuminating guide to our collective liberation, leading us toward a bright future for our art form.
Deputy Dean/Managing Director
Kelvin Dinkins, Jr.
Assistant Dean/General Manager