The sole permanently employed Black staffer in Goldsmiths University’s art department is “withdrawing” in protest.
The entrance to Goldsmiths College. Photo by katjung, via Wikimedia Commons.
Artist and educator Evan Ifekoya released a letter addressed to their colleagues at Goldsmiths, University of London on Monday saying they will be withdrawing from the art department due to racism they experienced at the school. In their letter, titled “Withdrawing my labor,” Ifekoya brings attention to their position as the sole permanently employed Black academic staff member in the art department at Goldsmiths, one of the top art schools in London.
Ifekoya wrote in their letter:
I refuse to carry the burden of being the only permanently employed black member of academic staff within the Art Department at Goldsmiths. To be so within a team of 70+ people—a tiny fraction of whom are people of color—in 2020 is not acceptable. [...] I refuse to let my mental health deteriorate as a consequence of the violence I experience in my workplace. I refuse to allow work to continue as normal.
Ifekoya also mentions that a memo had been in circulation among staff members urging them to vocalize their support for the university to extend fixed term contracts for the staff, given that five out of six Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) workers in the art department’s BA program work with that type of contract. Ifekoya wrote that “some [colleagues] responded by arguing that all staff matter, as if the mere mention of BAME workers takes attention away from white people.”
A Goldsmiths spokesperson told ARTnews “We fully recognize that simply stating we are committed to tackling racial injustice in all its forms is not enough.” They added that the school will be having conversations with students and faculty about how to move forward and end the “scourge of racism” in their community.