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James Smith Hall Freedom Making Murals
The Faculty of the Department of Women & Gender Studies commit to
the following principles:
We stand in
solidarity with our Black students, staff, and colleagues and all communities
of color in opposition to systemic white supremacy. As a department of
intersectional feminists, we know that there is systemic state-sanctioned
violence against Black women, men, trans, non-binary, and intersex people, and
we know that what may look like isolated incidents are part of a historical
process in this country. We know that the intersections of race, class, sexuality,
and other oppressive structures are key components that must be recognized and
acknowledged in any conversation about these injustices. It is these
intersections that have rendered largely invisible the violence against Black
women, both cis- and transgender, although such violence has been brutally
inflicted throughout centuries. We need to Say Her Name and fight for a better
future without state-sanctioned violence. To do so, we must also dismantle the
systems of white supremacy, racial capitalism, and hetero-patriarchy which
maintain these power differentials.
existed even before the official founding of the United States, violence
continues to be perpetrated against Black bodies, and protests have arisen in
response to several incidents including the police murder of George Floyd by
four police officers in Minneapolis, MN; of Tony McDade in Tallahassee, FL; the
killing of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging by two armed white men, acting as police
surrogates, in Brunswick, GA; and the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her own
home by police officers in Louisville, KY (among countless other instances of
police brutality). These, and many other murders by police and police
surrogates have reignited the protests begun by the Black Lives Matter movement
founded by three radical Black women organizers, Alicia Garza, Patrisse
Cullors, and Opal Tometi. As the United States is reckoning with
institutionalized racism and systemic white supremacy, our department continues
to reflect on our own practices and legacies.
We are committed
to using our positions as professors to amplify scholarship, pedagogy,
advocacy, and activism focused on dismantling all systems of oppression in our
department, the University of Delaware campus, and the broader community. We
invite you to share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas about ways in which the
Women &Gender Studies Department can support the work of students, staff,
faculty, and community partners with whom we engage. We are ready to listen and
About the James Smith Hall Freedom Making Murals (pictured above)
During the Fall of 2017, members of the LGBTQ+ and Racial Activism Living Learning Community, the Visual Arts Living Learning Community, and student residents from the University of Delaware's all-gender housing participated in the design and painting of a mural entitled "Freedom Making," a phrase developed by black feminist intellectual and activist Barbara Ransby. Located in the main lounge of James Smith Hall on UD's North campus, "Freedom Making" is the product of exciting collaborations between LGBTQ+ and Racial Justice Activism LLC academic coordinator Pascha Bueno-Hansen, Global Arts Director Colin Miller, visiting muralist Aurora Sidney-Ando, Residential Life staff, and an amazing group of student artists and activists.
"Freedom Making" is conceived as artivism (artist + activist), which speaks to the intentionality of the artistic process of collective creation and meaning-making as well as the socio-political intervention of the art piece itself. The act of creation, made visible in a public space, enacts the struggle for social justice and engages the political openings that result. The interactive mural installed in James Smith Hall has front panels that mirror the four back panels, honoring the way the present shapes images of a future, highlighted with messages of change and equality. Each panel emphasizes an element (water, fire, air, earth), acknowledging the healing power of nature and the wisdom it holds. Black chalkboard panels are hung between the imagery, inviting viewers to write hopes or action steps for change, reflections, and messages to spark discussions. Strings of butterflies connect the panels as well as the whole space.
Viewers are invited to walk through the images and consider what they can do to bridge the gap between the world as it exists now and the hopes of a future defined by freedom and justice. The "Freedom Making" mural exemplifies the possibilities that are within our reach when we focus our efforts towards healing, connecting with each other, and valuing all beings.
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