Odette Springer: An open-letter standing in solidarity with BLM and the BIPOC communities at Pacifica

“A group of mostly myth alumni and current students have put together an open-letter standing in solidarity with BLM and the BIPOC communities at Pacifica. The letter seeks to initiate a school wide conversation about the legacy of institutionalized and systemic racism. It also explores how we at Pacifica can implement our motto to be the change we would like to see in the world. We are inviting everyone at Pacifica, including the faculty and administration, to sign their names to this statement.”

Public Statement:

If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

~Lilla Watson, Indigenous Australian artist and activist

             The undersigned student body, alumni, and faculty of Pacifica Graduate Institute stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and BIPOC—the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community, including those who are part of the Pacifica community. This letter is an invitation to address systemic racism, interlocking forms of oppression, and transgenerational trauma.

We condemn the brutal and unjust killings of Black people by police departments around the country. We recognize George Floyd’s murder as well as each murder of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color as an unbearable series of lost lives due to systemic abuse by police.

We acknowledge that White privilege, unconscious biases, overt racism, and the pain of our country’s untended legacy of slavery have encouraged the perpetration of brutality and institutionalized racism. We can no longer remain silent about institutionalized harm wrought on the Black community and People of Color. Many of us have learned about slavery and blatant racism in our history books; sadly, it has not taught us to be anti-racist. It has not prepared us for the lived experience of the Black community. It has not encouraged us to be conscious allies.

             We believe that a step toward racial justice and equity at Pacifica Graduate Institute includes creating a vibrantly diverse, and anti-racist, school at all levels, from students to faculty to administration and staff. We intend to work with our Diversity Committee and Alumni Association to implement actively inclusive hiring and admissions policies.

We recognize the oppression of Black people is intimately interwoven with the genocide of Indigenous people, gender oppression, and class oppression. Pacifica’s motto is animae mundi colendae gratia, tending the soul of and in the world.An anti-racist educational institution is diverse in its employees, students, and curriculum. We believe a transdisciplinary and intersectional curriculum that includes critical race theory and the tending of trauma creates safe opportunities to acknowledge and begin healing collective and personal wounds.

We understand that true solidarity means not only fighting for the equal rights of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, but also means acknowledging that many of us may consciously or unconsciously have been complicit in racism. We apologize for the times that we may have missed, denied, and perpetrated racism and racist behaviors. Now, more than ever, is the time to employ Pacifica’s motto as a way to tend the souls in the world, as well as the soul of the world, because inflicting pain on others cuts us off from our humanity.

What we do at this time, individually and institutionally, speaks to an apocalyptic culmination which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as the “moral arc of the Universe” and its inevitable trajectory toward justice. We as a community commit ourselves to being the change.

             We encourage meditation and discussion upon the following questions:

  • How does tending the soul of and in the world apply to anti-racism and how might anti-racism enrich soul-tending?
  • What does restitution for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color look like?
  • How can we better listen to and amplify diverse voices within both the curriculum and the community?

Contributors: Annalisa Derr, Roz Carlos, Dr. April Heaslip, Dr. Odette Springer, Dr. Cindy Caldwell, Dr. Stephanie Zajchowski, Jessica Pink, Lizette Anfiteatro, Lisa Skura, and Latonia Hummingbird Dixon.

To sign the letter, please contact: anna.derr@my.pacifica.edu

Suggested Personal Actions toward being Anti-Racist:

Vote in all local and national elections.

Write or call your representatives to express your stances on issues important to you and continue to hold them accountable for their actions or inaction.

Listen to the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Research – Educate yourself about the history of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the United States, finding sources beyond accepted textbooks.

Learn that racism exists on a spectrum, from unconscious assumptions and “off-color” jokes to active hate-speech and violent hate-crimes.

Realize you may need to have uncomfortable conversations with friends and relatives who exhibit racist tendencies.

Avoid What-about-ism: focus on the egregious behavior of U.S. systems, especially the criminal justice system, toward Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and how these systems have reinforced economic and societal racism and racist policies.

Act – Sign petitions, donate to, and/or volunteer with organizations that support social and economic justice for BIPOC; mentor people that request help with networking or skills.

Do what you can, when you can. Every effort contributes value.

A Resource Page:

PETITIONS, ORGANIZATIONS AND PEOPLE TO TEXT AND CALL

DEMAND JUSTICE

DOCUMENTARIES

VIDEO INTERVIEWS

PBS BROADCAST AND STREAMING

DONATE

SUPPORT

EDUCATE (Articles about racism): 

SUPPORTING BLACK COLLEAGUES

PERSPECTIVE ON THE CURRENT PROTESTS

ALLYSHIP

WHITE PRIVILEGE

U.S. HISTORY AND RACISM

ANTI-RACISM

ANTI-RACIST DIALOGUE AND FACILITATION

Balancing Asymmetrical Social Power Dynamics

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