Recent events are forcing many to finally acknowledge the systemic racism that underlies and permeates so many structures in our society. Along with others, we stand against racial injustice that has resulted in Black lives demeaned, derailed, and cut short. We've been called to say their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery... but there are too many. This country has a long history of killing, injuring and devaluing Black and Brown people. It must stop.
We believe in the power of art to help build a more just world. Art has long been a way for our society to engage with conversations about trauma and pain; allowing us to share, understand, document, and advocate. We believe art and the dialogue it creates must be a part of our community at all times, and especially when we grapple with complex issues. If we are to eliminate systemic racism and bias, and create a more equitable Rochester, artists must be embraced as important voices in this struggle. We also recognize that actions speak louder than words. This is what we’re doing:
- Continuing to listen, learn, examine our own practices, and work to be actively anti-racist.
- Working with the Black Agenda Group and endorsing their 'Racism is a Public Health Crisis' declaration.
- Working with partners at RCTV and other organizations to support and connect artists, filmmakers and community journalists to document this current moment in our community. We believe it is important to collect, archive and amplify your stories - especially the stories of young people of color - at this unparalleled time.
- Redirecting support to Rochester’s Black Agenda Group, Black Lives Matter, Color of Change and other organizations and encouraging our members and supporters to contribute.
- Calling on our peer arts organizations to support the demands of Black Lives Matter and Campaign Zero as a group.
- Doubling our commitment to supporting artists, especially artists of color, who address social justice through their practice.
- Calling on The City of Rochester and Monroe County to fund education over policing.
There is an urgent need for action to address longstanding discrimination and injustice. Arts organizations, including small centers like RoCo, are making clear what they stand for and against. We have a long history of exhibiting artworks that address race and equity, and this will expand. Above all, we will continue to amplify artists’ voices and engage our community in thoughtful dialogue surrounding our most pressing issues.