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A Message from the Director

Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sean Monterrosa, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee: the names are too many, the list is too long. There have been too many others. Together with other departments at Columbia, we at the Italian Academy mourn their deaths.

We share the dismay and anger of all who have protested against the failures of national leadership and the racism that underlies too many of our institutions. We condemn violence and bias and the marginalization of Black, Indigenous and all Peoples of Color. We reject all forms of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status and the intersectionality of these identities in society at large. And we call for the dismantling of systemic forms of oppression.

Words are not enough. Now is not a time for empty gestures. We recognize that addressing these issues requires us to move beyond existing remedies. So let us channel our anger into the domain of constructive possibility and develop new approaches to robust diversification. We must use our intellectual resources to establish the elements of bias and figure out ways of combating them. We must exemplify the best possibilities for opposition to racial, gender and economic prejudice of every kind. We must develop new modes of community building, accountability and openness.

As members of the staff of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America we are all too aware that the failures of justice and opportunity are not only American problems. They are Italian and European ones as well. We shall work ever harder to bring new voices to the Academy and expand the diversity of our Fellowships and our audiences. We will continue to examine the European and Italian colonial past as well as contemporary attitudes towards the vast immigration crises of our time, in particular those involving the Mediterranean. In doing so we acknowledge our larger responsibility to eliminate the prejudices that have continued to stain decency, fairness, equality and love of neighbor in our own country. These are qualities that constitute a just and humane society, and we will not give up the struggle to achieve it.

David Freedberg