GD Dept: statement on racism

The faculty of the Graphic Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) stand in solidarity with our Black and Indigenous faculty and students of color, with our POC faculty and students, and with the Black Lives Matter movement. We are unanimous in working together against racism and discrimination, toward a just and equitable future.

       First we want to honor and remember George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and Monika Diamond . . . along with the countless Black lives lost to unconscionable police brutality—brutality which happens every day in America. We oppose the systems that legitimize and support state-sanctioned violence against Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC). We stand in support of the anti-racism protests taking place all across the country and the world. The demonstrations and protests underscore the need for us to take a closer look at our own department and the responsibility we each have as individual faculty members to actively dismantle racist systems within our school and in our teaching.

      The GD faculty commits to directly addressing issues of anti-blackness, the roots of white supremacy, and how these forces intersect with class, gender identity, and privilege. We acknowledge that we (as a department, a school, and as individual educators), may have caused harm to students, faculty, staff and others who are, or have been, part of this community. We, especially white faculty, need to listen more carefully and act with more purpose. We know that expressions of beliefs, solidarity, and intentions are just words. We know there is real work to be done.

       In 2019 the Graphic Design Department wrote our own Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI) Action Plan as a way to move closer to a more just and ethical future for our community. It is beyond time to put elements of that plan into action. Our goals are as follows: 1) to diligently question and shift the canon; 2) to change our curricula to be more inclusive and less hegemonic; 3) to examine and improve classroom practices and BIPOC student-teacher interactions; 4) to increase enrollment of BIPOC students and hiring of BIPOC faculty and staff; 5) to better support the day-to-day experiences of BIPOC staff, students, and faculty; 6) to continue our practice of prioritizing non-white speakers and visiting designers to our department. These are not just aspirational plans—they are urgent actions which we are undertaking and will continue to prioritize within our department.

      As an international body of students, staff, and faculty, we must recognize that Providence, RI, has a very specific and insidious history of settler colonialism and systemic racism. The Department of Graphic Design at RISD was founded and built within this context of white supremacy. It’s beyond time to shift this narrative by working to dismantle the extreme inequalities inherent in this school’s past and present.

      This is all work we will do together, but in particular it is work for white faculty to take on in order to repair and correct a system that requires daily unseen and unacknowledged labor of our BIPOC colleagues and students.

This is work in progress, and work to be continued.
RISD Graphic Design Faculty

Lucinda Hitchcock
James Goggin
Paul Soulellis
Ramon Tejada
Bethany Johns
Minkyoung Kim
Anastasiia Raina
Cara Buzzell
Cem Eskinazi
Aki Nurosi
Anther Kiley
Kelsey Dusenka
Franz Werner
Stephanie Castilla
Ryan Waller
Kathleen Sleboda
Cyrus Highsmith
Nancy Skolos
Richard Lipton
Thomas Wedell
Marie Otsuka
Rafael Attias
Jacek Mrowczyk
Kelsey Elder
John Caserta
June Shin
Emily Rye
Richard Rose
Ernesto Aparicio
Hammett Nurosi
Christopher Sleboda…
Anne West
Suzi Cozzens
Douglass Scott