Standing in Solidarity, Committing to the Work Ahead
As we mourn the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all who have suffered because of systemic racism, injustice, and violence, we stand in solidarity with the Black community in the fight against racism.
The first step in this work involves looking at ourselves. We turn first to our colleagues in The Met community to listen, learn, and move forward together.
Today in a letter to the Museum's staff, we affirmed The Met's solidarity with the Black community, recommitted to our ongoing efforts to diversify our institution, and made clear that this movement directly impacts our work.
There is much that The Met needs to do, and we are dedicated to doing it. Black Lives Matter.
Like so many of you, we have been watching the news from across this country with growing horror and mounting sorrow. The recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, and the ensuing nationwide protests, are yet another indictment of how deeply injustice flows in the United States and how urgent is the need for change. George Floyd's murder comes after a string of other high-profile killings of Black Americans over the past few months – and we remember here Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and so many others whose names we will never know – all while the pandemic continues to ravage our country, disproportionately affecting people of color.
There are no words we can write that will ease anyone's suffering, but we do wish to acknowledge the pain and outrage so many of us feel, and especially those in our community who feel these losses and injustices most keenly. The Met stands in solidarity with the Black community, and we join you in calling for justice. There is much work that The Met needs to do, and we are committed to doing it.
In our own work we recognize and understand that diversity of background, thought, and skills is an essential goal for our community and our staff. By valuing diversity as a core strength and listening to multiple viewpoints, we are better able to understand the world around us. We hold these same values for our mission as an encyclopedic museum, as well – but we also recognize that we must continue making strides toward diversifying our staff and our collection, expanding our narratives, and challenging ideologies and long ingrained assumptions that have silenced underrepresented and marginalized voices for centuries.
Through our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility plan, we are working to ensure that our workplace and culture support these values. Here too, there is more to do, and we will need the help of our entire Met community to ensure we stay focused on what we need to change. We must create a workplace that is free from racism and bias, so that all staff feel welcomed, valued, and safe. As we re-open the Museum, the Employee Resource Groups, just starting as we closed in early March, will be critical in informing that continued work.
We know that art can be a powerful tool for commenting on contemporary issues, and that museums can play an important role in facilitating important, yet uncomfortable discussions. As the national conversation around racial injustice has heightened in recent days, we have been using our social media channels to highlight works from our collection that invite reflection on our nation's complicated past and present. Two works we have shared thus far are an untitled series of four etchings by Glenn Ligon that both highlight and obscure writings by Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison, along with "Freedom of Speech" by artist Faith Ringgold, a work that juxtaposes the noble ideals of the Bill of Rights against the names of Americans who have been denied those same rights. We will continue to use social media to contribute to the national conversation, and we hope to respond to these issues thoughtfully in our blogs and other online programming in the coming weeks.
The frustration, disbelief, and anger in this country is palpable everywhere, and perhaps especially here in New York. Many of you have raised your voices on the streets and on social media, rightly demanding justice. We must come together as a Met community to grieve and to reflect on how we, as individuals, and as a museum, can do more to support social justice efforts in this country. We are thinking through various ways we can create opportunities for staff to have these conversations remotely, and we will share more details on what's next in the coming days.
This issue is one of many we are currently facing. While email has been a helpful tool in communicating over the past few months, it does not allow for the kind of connection we need to traverse these challenges together. Therefore, we are planning for a series of virtual conversations with all staff in the weeks ahead, when we can speak directly with you about current events, the Museum's response to the ongoing pandemic, re-opening plans, and more. We will follow up soon with more detail on the first of these conversations.
There is no doubt that this is a dark and difficult chapter of our nation's history. We rest our hope in the knowledge that together we are stronger, and that in this time of suffering, we can learn from and support each other.
Dan and Max