Standing together, not just now, but always

June 04, 2020
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By Dan Pitera

First, it is an honor to be a part of our School’s community with every cherished difference we all possess.

I have been hesitant to send this letter because it has been hard to put into words the anger, frustration and fear I, along with many of you, have been feeling. One part of me wants this letter to be words of solidarity: I want to assure our School of Architecture community that we are in this together. We stand together. I feel strongly that this and the hopefulness I carry outweighs the frustration I am feeling. The other side of me thinks it is important to state the fact that we all know, or should know: These recent violent acts against our black and brown neighbors, colleagues, friends and family are horrific reminders that systemic racism is deeply rooted in our society. I say systemic in this context because it is present every day and every minute. The names George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor may be new, but we have unfortunately seen this before. This is what drives my fear, because I am fairly certain that things will “go back to normal,” and the majority of our society will view it as an exception, while remaining blind to the systems that remain unchanged, which caused these violent acts in the first place. This “normal” that some people want to return to is a normal where our black and brown neighbors live in perpetual fear of violent actions against them or their families. They live with daily injustices that continue to reduce, marginalize and oppress. We at the School of Architecture must not just stand together, we must work together; Not only now, but always.

It is painfully clear that racism and hatred ignore property lines, building codes, local and national political boundaries. The disciplines of architecture and community development are also directly affected by systemic racism. We design and develop the spaces where these violent acts occur. How we work to alter and subvert this situation has everything to do with how our disciplines will change or not change. How they will grow or not grow. We must not wait for others to solve this for us. Our School remains committed to the aspiration that the architect’s and the community developer’s ethical responsibility is to truly celebrate difference, and in turn, not draw lines between people. With this in mind, our ethical responsibility should also not see boundaries between properties, neighborhoods, cities and towns, states and nations. The work we do has much greater implications beyond property lines or neighborhood limits. It is about the dignity and welfare of people; All people, our people.

It is most important now for all of us to speak up and to be part of the solution, in whatever way we can. Let’s not wait for it to “be over.” Systemic racism, as well as all other-isms that reduce, marginalize or oppress, are ever-present. 

I am honored to be a part of a community that thinks critically and works actively together against the injustices present in our society! 

Standing and working with you now and always.