Dear Cinema Community: Black Lives Matter and Social Justice Programming in Fall 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 09:31

Dear Cinema Community, including our prospective students from all over the world, who are reaching out to ask whether this is a good place to come and our continuing students who are thinking about whether this is a good place to return, as the world clearly needs to transform.

I am Celine Shimizu, Director of the School of Cinema, standing in support of Black Lives Matter, a movement that was co-founded here at SFSU by an alumna of the College of -Ethnic Studies, Alicia Garza.

The ongoing systemic devaluation of black life comes to the fore of our collective consciousness today with the murderous deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. It was 1992 when I first went to film school, moving to UCLA right after the LA Uprisings in protest of the brutal beating of Rodney King, an African American man by the police. In 2020, I acknowledge the anguish felt deeply by the Black community including our students, staff and faculty at SFSU and the rage shared by all those who righteously rise up to the ongoing injustices acutely faced by the African American community.

Still, the COVID-19 pandemic brings mass death and suffering that exposes continuing inequalities— whether the devastation of Native American communities, the disproportionate deaths experienced by African American and Latinx communities, or the rising racism faced by Asian Americans during this global health crisis. Moreover, the Black and Latinx communities also are disproportionately cited for social distancing violations, surveilled and violently attacked. So, there are disproportionate deaths and punitive surveillance both. Millions of people are losing their jobs and a bigger housing and hunger crisis looms before us.

Our community and culture at the School of Cinema is committed to social justice and the mobilization of our medium to transform the world. I am not talking about the videotaped beating of Rodney King and the recording of the violent kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, circulating and confirming what has systematically continued in white supremacy, I am talking about what we can do to transform this world through the power of cinema, to create images of a world we want and a world we need: a world where black people can breathe, thrive, flourish.

As Director, I am preparing for our All-School Convocation to open our Fall semester so we can talk about about racialized resistance and rebellion in filmmaking. Because I want to make sure we have a shared space to discuss pressing issues, our Fall programming will highlight the work of African American and other alumni of color, as well as queer and feminist programming so we can help each other in how we use our medium in service of justice.

I am thinking of all of you in our community and I hope you know it is the welfare and success of students that guide us. Be well, take good care, and I look forward to welcoming you to the School of Cinema as new and returning members of our community.