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BGWS Faculty & Staff Statement on Social Justice and Racial Equality

June 17, 2020
Dear BGWS Students,
These last few months have been challenging. The global pandemic has killed over 100,000 people in the U.S., and we are grieving this tremendous loss. There has been much sorrow and outrage. Following the violent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the many others, millions have taken to the streets around the country and the world to protest police brutality against Black Americans and the systemic racism in our institutions and society. 
We at BGWS condemn police brutality, racism, and white supremacy. We support those who are peacefully protesting police violence, and stand in solidarity with those advocating and working for meaningful change. We support the movements and conversations in the United States and globally that are working toward social justice and racial equality for Black Americans. We believe Black Lives Matter.
We are committed to a culture of inclusion and diversity in our program, and believe this is vital in making us a better, richer writing program. We want to commit to uplifting and amplifying Black voices at our residency and in our classrooms. We know we still have much work to do in order to help build lasting change. We will continue to develop BGWS to be a diverse, thriving program for writing where we can come together to engage in critical thought and build meaningful connections through our stories, conversations, and actions.
We believe literature and writing play a vital role to create a more equitable world. Literature creates empathy, challenges us to expand our understanding of ourselves and each other, and has the capacity to transform the world. Through literature, we can connect across continents, centuries, and cultures; experience perspectives and realities vastly different from our own; and know we are not alone. Literature and stories help us understand each other more profoundly and imagine a better world.
Black, lesbian poet Audre Lorde wrote, “[W]hat I most regretted were my silences . . . Your silence will not protect you,” and the “transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation.” During this time of unrest and social change, we encourage you to listen to people in your community who are hurting and to voices who have been silenced, to engage in meaningful conversations and actions about racism and social justice, and to keep our democracy alive by voting. And, of course, we also hope you’ll be writing and creating, and turning to literature for nourishment and inspiration.
“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it… If there is no moral question, there is no reason to write. I’m an old-fashioned writer, and despite the odds, I want to change the world.”
--James Baldwin
Julie Hensley, Nancy Jensen, Robert Dean Johnson, Christina Lovin, Carter Sickels, Young Smith, and Regina Szabo

Published on June 22, 2020

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