Monday, March 9, 2009

Part 9: March 9, 2009

Today we posted our open letter to the dance program as well as a response to the faculty's concern about paint. We will post the text in its own separate post.

We also posted words in the 2nd floor Men's and Women's bathrooms.

Additionally, we added to existing parts: added photos of Naseeruddin Shah, Reza Aslan, and Dgakapurra Munyarryun in the second floor back stairwell, added two more photos to the invisible bodies section, posted another sign on the other public entrance to the building that reads "You are now entering a space of privilege and prejudice", and added a THIS to the underside of the lobby stairs.

Combined person hours: 41
This figure includes time spent together in a physical space doing final editing and preparation for Part 9.
This figure does not include all writing, editing, research, organizing, printing, hashing and rehashing ideas, documentation, and recovery.
This figure does not include the time of allies who have helped us write, and have written to us.

Financial costs: final costs to be calculated. Spent $10 on double sided tape to comply with the faculty request that we use paint-friendly adhesives. The words in the bathroom fell down.


To view full photo album, go to:

back door - main floor

From part 9: March 9

2nd floor Men's and Women's bathroom doors read "What are you ashamed of?"
From part 9: March 9

the inside of the Men's bathroom

From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

the inside of the Women's bathroom
From part 9: March 9

From part 9: March 9

to view full album, click below:

part 9: March 9


  1. i think this protest is a very forward, but it walks a delicate line between advocating for difficult, uncomfortable, unprecedented change--of U.S. culture as reflected in the institution of acedemia--and depreciating authority, perhaps unconstructively.

    Is determining that there is legitimacy to the grievance of Racism in the department is the first step towards establishing a basis for the mutual acceptance of all the stakeholders of THIS protest use of white wall-space?

    It's a moral question more than an issue of facilities management whether this use of this white wall-space should be permitted. There is the point that covering so much clear glass near the main entrances is more obstructive and obtrusive than simply utilizing empty white-space to convey important information. But the bigger question apart from covering glass is whether it is a morally legitimate use of white wall-space, and matters of logistics should only be considered afterwards. The answer to this bigger moral has broader implications that could pose a direct threat the University both in the dance and theater departs and beyond to the entirety of the University institution.

    Because if that white wall-space is being legitimately used to raise otherwise unresolved grievances about Racism, and day-to-day conduct and treatment of people, in the social interactions that make up our educational community, then the same Racism grievance(s) would certainly occur in other areas of the University; if anything more so outside the West Bank artistic types of departments. Its likely that University PR executives would worry that this kind of "anti-establishment" protest tactic could spread throughout other buildings and departments in the University, as one person made reference to in a previous comment. So one important concern is that the University administration may want to suppress the statement THIS makes not for any right reasons but for immoral reasons of expedience. They want their business school they just put so much money into to look good when important business school people visit it; they don't want the important visitors to see blatant direct accusations to the University of political incorrectness being posted in highly visible and potentially obtrusive fashion.

    In my opinion the answer to the first question--of whether there are legitimate grounds for the kind of grievance THIS raises--is yes. Then THIS brings the conversation to uncharted waters in that never before have so many people, and so many white people, been pushed so forcefully to examine some of the privileges and perceptions associated around Race. Many individuals come to consider these subjects in more voluntary ways, but i've never seen this kind of subject pushed so directly onto any group of individual people.

    I think one important element to the discussion has to be a consideration of how Racism plays out in daily practice. Because you can talk about all the benchmark indicators, and all the statistics, and all the important achievements, but I believe the core way Racism is allowed to perpetuate is through habitual and oftentimes somewhat subconscious daily practices.

    There was a statement earlier in THIS that went something to the effect of, "Your body is always saying something." because there are subtle ways that we affirm or deny and accept or reject, and oftentimes these messages that may be very insignificant alone but taken cumulatively, all those subtle messages sent by all those people over the course of a day or a life can really have a hurtful impact on a person.

    Maybe we as white people through habitual repetition come to take some things for granted, like in terms of social hierarchy. One gender-related example that I have observed is how sometimes in a group conversation a man and a woman will both attempt to take the floor and speak at the same time, and more often than not the woman tends to defer to the man and let him speak first. I don't know if it happens that way in the dance department, but in my life elsewhere I have observed this trend.

    So that's a gender-related example of how we come to learn to take certain assumptions for granted such that we don't even notice any social inequality about it. Or maybe inequity is a better word to use, in order to elucidate the distinction between equality and equivalency, or "We are all the same" compared to "We are all equally good and acceptable(but maybe not the same)".

    And this kind of social inequity which THIS addresses is nothing new as can be evidenced by history or social statistics such as arrest records, but to try to nail down the manifestations of this institional or "broader structural" dynamic in concrete social interactions between individuals who are real people, again, is as far as i know unprecedented.

    One important thing is finding a useful vocabulary to understand these subjects, and since this conversation is unprecedented it may require creative answers. Those creative answers may be found through conversations between different people, in which from their different perspectives they come to find some common terms by which they can all share an understanding of the way(s) institutional racism plays out in day-to-day practice and real-life social interactions.

    Thats very vague but vague theory might be just as important as attention to day-to-day practices if the group of individuals that form the community involved in this discussion are to successfully achieve any evolution or advancement of praxis in the way our US or University department culture treats race/class/gender and Otherness if you will.