My name’s Monique, and I’m the founder of the BE FREE Movement (Black Engaged Fundamental Racial Equity Everyday). We consist of current students, alumni, adjunct faculty, professor emeritus, and other affiliates of CSU Sacramento.
We are writing to introduce to you BE FREE; Black Engaged Fundamental Racial Equity Everyday. We represent many past and present CSUS Theater and Dance students who have created BE FREE to eradicate the underlying racist structures and policies which have plagued the Theatre and Dance Department at Sacramento State and which the department continues to operate under.
The BE FREE Movement is currently in the process of recommending anti-racist policies for the department that will create and maintain an actively antiracist departmental structure conducive for positive educational change.
BE FREE strives to create racial equity starting with Sacramento State University and expanding beyond to all the 23 California State Universities.
Days after the murder and senseless death of George Floyd, a blanket statement about “Black Lives Matter” was posted on the CSUS Theatre and Dance’s social media website. This sparked a dialogue from which the department chair, Lorelei Bayne, prompted an open forum held for students and faculty to discuss racism within the department.
As a result of the lack of acknowledgement, attendance, and participation from the Theatre and Dance Department, BE FREE was created and held their own Zoom meetings with the department’s faculty, administration, and CSUS President, Robert Nelsen.
Students and alumni shared their experiences of racism, discrimination, and acts of racial and sexual discrimination imposed on them by the faculty in and outside the classroom setting. Testimonies, spanning back as far as the early 1990s, exposed countless encounters of aggression, bigotry, racism, racial discrimination, sexualization, body shaming, homophobia, and sexism from faculty towards Black, Brown and Asian students. In addition, the students pointed to the department’s current curriculum which perpetuates one-sided Western cultural hegemony.
These testimonies were followed by alumni relating how they were ill-prepared for their careers in theater and/or dance after graduating with a degree in Theater and Dance from the university.
Twice weekly, BE FREE meetings have been held every week since, so the faculty could follow and engage with the leadership of the students and alumni of BE FREE, in order to create positive change. Instead of working to make progress with the students, President Nelsen requested all of the department’s faculty and administration to STOP attending our BE FREE meetings.
For the last fourteen weeks, students, alumni and some part-time faculty from the department have been attending the BE FREE meetings. We will continue to meet to discuss the next steps the BE FREE Movement is taking to create actively antiracist change and dismantle racism at CSU Sacramento.
Donations can be sent via Venmo: BEFREE-Movement
Email us at BE.FREE.Movement.email@example.com for more updates on our antiracist actions and other ways to donate.