We write this message in response to the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee and countless other Black people at the hands of police and law enforcement across the country. As a community that includes many people impacted by our unjust law enforcement and carceral systems, we mourn the deaths and the brutalization of Black people under these violent systems of anti-Blackness and white supremacy. We assert and reaffirm that Black Lives Matter.
At JAC, we work to amplify the voices and creative expression of artists who have experienced incarceration, because we know that the objectives of this system are to silence and dehumanize. The foundations of the system are slavery, colonization, and institutionalized anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. We stand against the continued oppression and dehumanization of Black people, and stand with the protestors who are refusing to remain silent. We are disturbed and angered by the efforts of law enforcement to deny their right to free expression and to demand true justice. The use of physical violence, tear gas, rubber bullets, and other militarized tactics against civilians is horrifying and unacceptable, both in this country and abroad.
JAC’s mission is to “harness the transformative power of the arts to reimagine justice.” The current moment has revealed to us that we at JAC must do better. We invite and implore you, especially those that are non-Black or white allies, to join us in efforts to educate ourselves and take action, as it is not enough to reimagine justice – we need to collectively work towards a complete transformation of the system.
We will be reading and engaging with the work of Black scholars, activists, theorists, and authors, sitting in discomfort, and learning and unlearning in the process of becoming antiracist. This is not a program with a beginning and end, but a lifelong undertaking and responsibility.
We will be following the leadership and amplifying the voices of Black people and organizations that have been doing the work of dismantling white supremacy and anti-Blackness, as well as the systems that perpetuate them.
Education is vital, but action is even more so. We have compiled a document containing resources on where you can donate (grassroots organizations, bail funds, and funds for basic needs) and get involved. It is a work in progress, and we encourage you to contribute to it.
JAC will be continually working on how we can be actively antiracist as an organization, and how we can best show up for and support the Black artists, friends, educators and professionals in our network.
As always, we welcome your thoughts and input on how we might go forward in solidarity, healing, and action.