MFA Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
As we prepare for this year’s summer residency in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, we continue to reel from the devastating effects of institutionalized racism, systemic oppression, and white supremacy. We grieve with our community and we recognize the need to address the issues this tragedy underscores.
The Augsburg MFA Program stands in solidarity with the Black community. We acknowledge the long, violent history of white supremacy that continues to pervade and shape our current cultural, political, social, and educational institutions, and we remain committed to the ongoing work of decolonizing our program, our courses, and our art.
We must be anti-racist as we teach, as we write, and as we continue to develop and define our program. We have several goals and action steps in mind. We have created an annual scholarship to amplify the voices of BIPOC writers. As we move forward, we will examine the biases in our hiring process and commit to an equitable approach that invites more BIPOC and other marginalized artists into our writing community. We affirm the initiatives of Augsburg University, particularly the demand for inclusive, anti-racist leadership and the requirement for all faculty, staff, and administration to complete training programs in diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
Those of us who are white have a greater responsibility for our learning when it comes to anti-racism, and we are committed to challenging and transforming our own reading lists, writing processes, and pedagogy. We recognize the fact that countless BIPOC artists and organizations have long been engaging in anti-racist work, and we will dedicate ourselves to listening to and supporting these writers in Minneapolis and beyond.
Writers speak truth to power, craft the stories that shape our communities, serve as witnesses, and provide words that uplift, dismantle, critique, and console. But perhaps the most important work of the writer is this: to help us envision and build a different kind of world.
We see this work as ongoing and collaborative between all the members of our MFA community. We look forward to learning and growing through listening, engagement, and citizenship.
What to read:
Michael Kleber Diggs, Junauda Petrus-Nasah, Shannon Gibney, “Love, History, Hope:
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, three black Twin Cities authors look to the past, to their families and to the community as they make a plea for change,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, June 7, 2020
Su Hwang, “Letter from Minneapolis: Why the Rebellion Had to Begin Here,” LitHub, June 8, 2020
Junauda Petrus-Nasah, “Could We Please Give the Police Departments to the Grandmothers”
University of Minnesota Racial Justice Reading
Bao Phi, “Untitled: A Reflection from a Vietnamese American in Minneapolis,” diaCRITICS, June 2, 2020
Audre Lorde, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury,” 1985
A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, edited by Sun Yung Shin, and including essays by Heid E. Erdrich, Augsburg MFA mentor in poetry, and David Lawrence Grant, who will moderate a panel on “Racism and the Writing World” on the opening night of the MFA program’s forthcoming summer residency session. The Summer 2020 “One Book | Minnesota” Selection.
Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century
Edited by Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Sean Frederick Forbes,Tara Betts (2Leaf Press)
An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibility by Carolyn L. Baker (2Leaf Press)
Mariah Stovall, “A Letter From a Black Woman in Publishing on the Industry’s Cruel, Hypocritical Insistence That Words Matter,” Publishers Weekly, June 8, 2020
Chris Jackson, ““Diversity in Publishing” Doesn’t Exist—But Here’s How it Can,” LitHub, Oct. 10, 2017
Jasmine Wallace, “What Is the Value of a Master’s in Publishing?” The Scholarly Kitchen, April 12, 2018
Kiki Petrosino, “Literacy Narrative,” The Iowa Review, Winter 2018/19
Where to give:
Suggestions for engagement:
Write to your state representatives; follow state legislation and write about your community needs.
Request Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to be guests (preferably paid) in programs, hired as faculty/staff, and consulted as experts on panels.
Write to underserved groups of people, including shelters, correctional facilities, and long-term care homes.
Whatever affiliations one has, write to state your interests of focus.
Write to grant-giving endowments and large organizations about the importance of raising underrepresented voices.
Organize a book drive; host moments of silence, hold vigils; host moments of recognition; write, share, post statements; listen, digest, and reflect.
Black Lives Matter. Say Their Names. Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Michelle Cusseaux, Laquan McDonald, George Mann, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Matthew Ajibade, Frank Smart, Natasha McKenna, Tony Robinson, Anthony Hill, Mya Hall, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, William Chapman II, Alexia Christian, Brendon Glenn, Victor Manuel Larosa, Jonathan Sanders, Freddie Blue, Joseph Mann, Salvado Ellswood, Sandra Bland, Albert Joseph Davis, Darrius Stewart, Billy Ray Davis, Samuel Dubose, Michael Sabbie, Brian Keith Day, Christian Taylor, Troy Robinson, Asshams Pharoah Manley, Felix Kumi, Keith Harrison McLeod, Junior Prosper, Lamontez Jones, Paterson Brown, Dominic Hutchinson, Anthony Ashford, Alonzo Smith, Tyree Crawford, India Kager, La’vante Biggs, Michael Lee Marshall, Jamar Clark, Richard Perkins, Nathaniel Harris Pickett, Benni Lee Tignor, Miguel Espinal, Michael Noel, Kevin Matthews, Bettie Jones, Quintonio Legrier, Keith Childress Jr., Janet Wilson, Randy Nelson, Antronie Scott, Wendell Celestine, David Joseph, Calin Roquemore, Dyzhawn Perkins, Christopher Davis, Marco Loud, Peter Gaines, Torrey Robinson, Darius Robinson, Kevin Hicks, Mary Truxillo, Demarcus Semer, Willie Tillman, Terrill Thomas, Sylville Smith, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher, Paul O’Neal, Alteria Woods, Jordan Edwards, Aaron Bailey, Ronell Foster, Stephon Clark, Antwon Rose II, Botham Jean, Pamela Turner, Dominique Clayton, Atatiana Jefferson, Christopher Whitfield, Christopher Mccorvey, Eric Reason, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks.
“A (very non-comprehensive) list of names of black people killed by the police since Eric Garner’s death in 2014,” with reporting by NPR’s Code Switch.