June 5, 2020
We have spent the past week watching, listening, protesting, and mourning as we have struggled to determine what to say in support of the ongoing fight for justice. This statement of solidarity comes as we cannot remain silent, but recognize that there are no sufficient words. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others who have been victims of hateful racist crimes and police brutality. We stand in support of Black Lives Matter and the ongoing protests. We recognize that words are only the beginning and actions will always speak louder. We must do better. Together, we are committing to taking action and participating in the work that is required in creating a more equal and just society. First, we acknowledge the systematic racism that is ingrained within our institutions, the scientific community, and by extension the conservation field. Our mission as conservators is to preserve cultural heritage, but historically, these efforts have not applied equally to all cultures. In particular, black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) continue to be under- and mis-represented. We must elevate their marginalized voices and ensure their stories are told and preserved.
To support Black Lives Matter and the preservation of BIPOC cultural heritage, we compiled the following list of action items that will promote systemic change.
- Be prepared to feel uncomfortable and question your own privileges. Publicly acknowledge institutional racism and support #BlackLivesMatter.
- Elevate the voices of BIPOC.
- Form coalitions to support communities affected by systemic bias.
- When working with a collection or object, commit to learning its full context from a non-white perspective.
- Contribute to research that enhances the visibility and history of BIPOC.
- Prioritize social justice in internal and public programming across cultural institutions.
- Acknowledge that #MuseumsAreNotNeutral and invite curatorial direction from BIPOC.
For donation sites, readings, and more action items: https://docs.google.com/…/1iJyf1HDsbziIeDHROWKH…/mobilebasic
— Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022
The complete June 4 message from University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis to the UD community — quoted in the image above — is available here.