About Our Teach-Ins
“What it isn’t is the positioning of Black people as “Better Than” or “More Important Than.” It’s looking at Black Life. It’s looking at the quality of Black Life. I think that it is a belief system that challenges the idea that Black people are inherently less human, are less valuable than anyone else. I think it’s looking at mass incarceration, beyond incarceration, beyond police brutality; I think it’s looking at housing, I think it’s looking at employment, disenfranchisement, homelessness, poverty, marginalization. It’s a movement about politics, it’s about liberation. I think it’s a declaration; I think it’s a cry; I think it’s an intervention; and I think that it is a tool for transformation. It’s not about outrage, it’s about responsibility. And I think everyone is implied in that.”
Black Lives Matter is a national movement that values Black life and recognizes the ways in which it is too often imperiled.
The movement was launched by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin, and has broadened since the subsequent killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Rekia Boyd, and far too many others.
Black Lives Matter protests against the extrajudicial killings and incarceration of Black people, and seeks to affirm “the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.” (blacklivesmatter.com)
What BLM Looks Like at Pratt Institute
Many Pratt faculty, staff, and students have been engaged in issues of racial justice on campus: from work done by Bako Tribe; the Women Writers of Color; the Black Alumni of Pratt who have long celebrated Black aesthetics; the Social Practice Faculty Seminar; the Diversity Advocates; the Diversity Committee, among many others. During the 2015-16 academic year, it became clear through the workshops and meetings between students and the Social Practice Faculty Seminar, that Black Lives Matter on campus had to initiate itself. Our students, faculty, and staff were struggling with how to make sense of the violence, and how to open a space for dialog on campus to speak openly about forms of silent and slow violence that many experience on campus. Together, the faculty and staff have come together in an all Institute wide collective that has been dedicated to this movement on our campus. Student involvement in this movement is through smaller workshops and in response to how the students want to engage. A main concern for the faculty and staff is to support our students and their right to speak freely and in a “safer” space knowing that “safe space” might be a fantasy).
Through the Teach-In we aim to spark a campus-wide conversation about the implications of this movement at Pratt. We seek to understand the operations of systemic racism inherent in institutions of higher learning in America, to create dialogues around forms of racial privilege and the racial inequality at Pratt. We want to consider our student’s well-being in relation to social and racial justice. We want to analyze and celebrate Black aesthetics and allow for a critical engagement with racialized struggles in everyday life. We believe it is important to consider Black Lives Matter more broadly, from a historic and contemporary politics of racial capitalism. We strive to create a campus culture wherein which Black students, faculty, and staff enjoy the full support and respect of our campus. We hope that we can engage both our campus and the broader Brooklyn community in which we are situated.
The structure of the teach-ins bring us all together in the mornings to share information, the afternoons are breakout sessions, and the final session of the day brings everyone back in again. There are also open spaces for spontaneous, urgent, immediate, meetings and conversations.