We, Too, Say Black Lives Matter
For eight minutes, 46 seconds, George Floyd was in a chokehold that led to his final words, “I can’t breathe.” His death, Ahmaud Arbery’s, and Breonna Taylor’s were the latest in high-profile killings of Black people that reflect a daily reality of racism in America.
Sadness, anger, and horror filled our hearts as we saw the news. Ravinia mourns together with, and for, the families of those who have lost or fear losing loved ones due to hatred based on the color of their skin. This includes the families of the thousands of kids of color who are part of our music education community. As one Black parent shared with us, “There has never been a day when it’s safe for a Black boy like my son to be out.”
These realities do not reflect our values and do not reflect America’s values.
But values of justice and solidarity cannot just be words on a page. They demand action to live them out. South African civil rights leader Desmond Tutu captured the choice we face today: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
As an arts organization that is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all its forms, we are not neutral.
Therefore we resolve to not only speak up against hate, violence, and systemic institutional racism, but to do our part in actively dismantling it in the arts. We also commit to redouble our own efforts to become more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
Among the commitments we make today:
- Create systems of listening and accountability with communities of color.
- Continue to expand our Reach Teach Play music education programs to kids of all backgrounds in communities with little access to the arts.
- Further diversify our full-time, seasonal, and educational staffs.
- Further diversify our Board of Trustees, Women’s Board, and Associates Board.
- Take our staff through anti-racism training as part of our ongoing learning process.
- Continue to further diversify and expand our programming.
- Enhance and deepen an inclusive and welcoming experience at all of our concerts – from ticket purchasing; to arriving, entering, and exiting; to eating and strolling; to listening to music from a vast array of traditions and cultures so we can all celebrate together and joyfully.
No conductor of our time related better to the real world than Leonard Bernstein, a musician who was equal parts conductor, pianist, composer, teacher, and political activist. A brilliant communicator and humanitarian whose life, work, and passions have been and will be celebrated at Ravinia for many seasons on our stages, in our classrooms, and in the community.
Bernstein’s words have often been turned to as a source of comfort and strength in the face of unimaginable pain and loss, including, most notably: “It is obvious that the grievous nature of our loss is immensely aggravated by the element of violence involved in it. And where does this violence spring from? From ignorance and hatred. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
Don Civgin, Board Chair
Andrés T. Tapia, Trustee Chair, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Working Group
Welz Kauffman, President and CEO