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Black Lives Matter

June 1, 2020

Dear NYFA Community,

I write to you today heartbroken and angry over the senseless killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and the charged and hateful attempt to bring harm to Christian Cooper in New York. These recent tragedies are part of a long and intolerable history of racism and racial violence against Black men and women, and communities of color in our country. We cannot accept this status quo.

The magnitude of harm borne by African Americans is too hard to bear individually. We cannot sit quietly while our students, faculty and staff of color grapple with how to safely exist in our society. Instead, NYFA will stand beside you, listen, and take action to ensure your safety on our campuses.

The New York Film Academy joins the call to end racial violence against African Americans and communities of color and honors the right of free speech and non-violent protest. We share civil rights icon Representative John Lewis's call for "love, peace and nonviolence," and the belief of Reverend Bernice King, who has stated "We will never get to the end of justice and equity and true peace … unless we do it through nonviolent means."

I am in discussion with members of our community about what NYFA can do and what we must do to effect change within our institution and in our society. As President I am committed to the task of making NYFA a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse change-making institution. One of NYFA's greatest strengths is that we are a global community. As students and artists, I ask you to work together and collaborate across cultures, races, and ethnicities to effect change. You represent the brighter future of our industry. As visual and performing artists, all of your work here and in the future can have influence, inspire healing and is essential for the health of our society. Your stories help create empathy and understanding to bridge our differences and take down barriers between us.

Confronting racial inequities in our society is a lifelong endeavor and we cannot rely only on people of color to bear the burden of change. As an institution we have room to expand our curriculum, our events, and to increase diversity in our community. Conversations in our administrative meetings have focused on inequity, racism, and privilege. We will be implementing changes to our curriculum and student activities to ensure that more community members from all walks of life are represented. The Diversity Task Forces on our campuses are working to create educational events for our students and trainings for our faculty and staff.

At this time of upheaval and pain, we want to pause and give space for you to be with each other and a supportive administration. NYFA will soon be hosting a community forum to allow us to join together and discuss our experiences and reactions to the recent violence perpetrated against African Americans. Please monitor your email for the date and time of this forum.

In solidarity and support,

Michael Young
President
New York Film Academy

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