January 21, 2021
Dear MICA community,
As new national leaders took office in the U.S., I share below some reflections and information that I hope you will find of value.
A Time for Celebration and Action
Democracy prevailed in thoughts and action this week in the U.S. On Monday, we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose life and teachings continue to inspire our work toward justice and equality. And yesterday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were officially sworn in as the 46th President and 49th Vice President of the United States. The January 6 acts of domestic terrorism by White supremacists on the U.S. Capitol, however, make it abundantly clear that our democracy cannot be taken for granted. We must remain vigilant in protecting its core values of social justice, equality, and freedom.
Our nation remains deeply divided along ideological lines. This division was not born in recent weeks, months, or even within the term of a presidency. It is rooted in the colonial genocide of indigenous populations, the chattel slavery of primarily African people, and the resulting 400 years of our shared history—one of injustice and indignity that marks our country and one that we have yet to fully reconcile as a nation. As evidenced by the grossly disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on the BI+POC community, now, as then, racism and especially anti-Black racism have been built into our systems of power, government, law, economics, and social practice.
We have much work to do in the country and at the College. MICA, as an institution and a community, is in a unique place in our history to own, confront, and respond to these issues. Our creative voices are powerful instruments to shed light, expose truth, generate dialogues and engagement, and spur purposeful action. Although it is hard, we must act to bring positive and transformative change on campus and in the larger society, because we know it is right.
For inspiration, I encourage those who have missed it to watch National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s delivery of her powerful poem The Hill We Climb at yesterday’s presidential inauguration ceremony. Here is a link to the transcript.
A Time for Care and Reflection
As we pledge to continue to work together as a community to eradicate racism and to heal, learn, and unite together, we recognize the weight of the current times and of the past and extend mutual support to one another.
Today, the Center for Teaching Innovation & Exchange (C/TIE) is hosting a series of professional development workshops for faculty and staff, including sessions on Self-Care and Wellness, Decentering Whiteness, and a Support Forum for BI+POC community members.
In the coming days and weeks, MICA’s Community of Care Committee and Strategic Initiatives will follow up on the January 19 gathering and continue to host discussions and programming for community dialogues and learning. Coming soon are screenings of a film series called “A Force More Powerful.” Student Affairs and Academic Affairs are offering in-class workshops on supporting our diverse student population that faculty can request for their classes, and The Space for Creative Black Imagination, in partnership with a number of programs, will be presenting artists and scholars whose work demonstrates the efficacy of art and design as vehicles for racial activism and change.
Our best path forward is one of hope and toward unity. It is our collective journey to, in Amanda Gorman’s words, “raise this wounded world into a wondrous one”.
Office of the President
Maryland Institute College of Art
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