The USC School of Cinematic Arts should be the industry leader in guiding best practices for our industries, not adhering to the toxic cultures that have become systemic in so many media industries. The School of Cinematic Arts must commit to foster a creative environment that is welcoming to Black students, faculty, and staff, and members of other oppressed and underrepresented groups. We understand that all forms of media have played foundational roles in creating and perpetuating racist images of Black people. We must produce and champion work that rejects racist stereotypes. We must push and promote an anti-racist environment where Black students are supported and feel comfortable expressing ideas and stories they are passionate about. This is a challenge to media and entertainment industry practices, as well as a non-negotiable need for change at USC and the School of Cinematic Arts.
Conversations about the goals of Black Lives Matter and other movements to address Anti-Blackness are not meant to be comfortable for non-black students, faculty and staff. We risk perpetuating the issues we are trying to address if we center this discomfort in our discussions. The day-to-day lives of Black members of our community consist of psychologically harmful experiences and potentially fatal encounters and we must prioritize their survival and wellbeing.
We call for specific, feasible actions to be implemented starting Fall 2020 semester. We believe the following practices can lead to a more equitable environment. Additional feedback and suggestions are highly encouraged.
- Acknowledge that our Black students, faculty and staff are hurting as a community.
- Provide our Black students mental health resources that specifically address the trauma of racial injustice they have witnessed and faced.
- Invite and create opportunities for Black students to have a powerful voice moving forward.
- Foster environments where there is more than one Black voice in the room; and where Black students do not feel responsible for representing anyone but themselves.
- Recruit more Black faculty, leaders and mentors within SCA; have a voice on hiring committees.
- Examine the SCA curriculum through the lens of critical race theory.
- End the profiling of Black students by DPS when they enter campus.
- Define accountability for microaggressions and racist comments in the classroom and follow through accordingly.
- Promote organizations that provide spaces for Black voices, communities of color and other marginalized and underrepresented communities within SCA.
- Include more examples of work from Black filmmakers in the curriculum.
- Review films and media examples shown in class.
- Provide opportunities for students in production-based programs to take classes focused on race, diversity and culture.
The SCA Council for Diversity & Inclusion will continue to hold monthly meetings, during the academic calendar, that all members of the SCA community are invited to attend, either in person or remotely. In the immediate future we will work with the Council on the action items listed above. The Council for Diversity & Inclusion is only as diverse and strong as the members that participate. We do not expect meetings to always promote agreement; rather, we encourage dialogue, discussion and debate in order to further our commitment to change
The School of Cinematic Arts can and will do better.