RISD Anti-Racism Coalition (risdARC) is dedicated to combating our institution’s prolonged history of anti-Blackness, marginalization, and discrimination along with the intersections of global systems of oppression affecting our community. We support and advocate for the needs of all students of color regardless of ethnicity, race, disability, gender, or sexuality.

Response of Landscape Architecture Department

June 30 2020

Written By:
LDAR Department
Sent to:

To Jada Akoto, Sarah Alvarez, Lauryn Levette, Felicita Devlin, Afi Goncalves, Aya [Redacted], Sara Park, Ezzy Goncalves, Mary Kuan, Nailah Golden, Lauren Rausaw, Natyana Fonseca, Rey Londres, Leslie Ponce-Díaz, Soleil Singh, Elaine Lopez, Stephen Foster, Pooja Nitturkar, Namrata Dhore, Taj Richardson, and all of the Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color at RISD and in our communities,

We offer this letter in response to your call for departmental action to address the deeply troubling issues you raised with us at the RISD & Race meeting hosted on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Please know that this response is part of a larger ongoing and evolving process currently being undertaken as a department to rethink how we enact meaningful social equity and inclusion and is not meant to be viewed as a one-time declaration. We know that there is long-term work to be done.

We recognize and unanimously stand by the countless Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPoC) in this country that have endured centuries of tokenism, marginalization, aggression, violence, brutality, and terror as a result of white supremacy and deeply rooted systemic racism in the United States of America and much of the world. We acknowledge that our discipline exists within and is shaped by this system and needs to account for how its knowledge and practices help reinforce the racist ideologies that underpin it. The white and non-Black people of color in our department recognize that the onus is on us to do this work of self-reflection and to develop and implement lasting actions. For too long the burden of dismantling systemic racism in our discipline, institution, and society has fallen on BIPoC. We recognize that the responsibility is on our non-Black educators to engage in difficult conversations in the classroom and carry the bulk of this load moving forward. We will renew our efforts to bring actionable change towards equity and anti-racism in our department, and actively support adjacent efforts at RISD.

Attached to this letter is a series of questions we are using to begin the process of examining our role in perpetuating inequality at RISD, as well as our first pass at outlining the actions we will take to help address those inequalities. We hope these actions will resonate widely beyond the walls of this institution, as change is needed across academia and practice throughout the architecture and design disciplines. We recognize the limits to our relatively homogenous perspectives and are committed to listening and evolving our approach to better address overt and implicit racism. Through the process of crafting this response, the landscape faculty, especially the white and non-Black faculty of color, have been and continue to reckon with the potential of our roles as instructors and mentors to have unknowingly or knowingly been the source of hurt. It’s this reckoning that has helped us to reflect and work beyond reactionary declarations and create an actionable plan for ourselves and our department.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us. We appreciate and respect the courage and effort that it took, and understand that the stories you shared represent a much larger burden that you and other BIPoC students have been carrying for a long time. We are committed to continuing our reflection, developing a plan, and implementing change, and acknowledge that we would not have done this without the definitive action that you took first. Over the next year, we will be working as a faculty to determine which items in our working plan can be implemented immediately, and which ones require structured conversations and long-term strategies as we move forward.

With gratitude and in solidarity,
The Department of Landscape Architecture

View PDF Document Here.