When I started at the Yale Center for British Art, I was immediately confronted with cases of unequal treatment and issues regarding race. Instead of sitting back and doing nothing, I started talking to other members in my department about it. As a group we decided that having a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training could help with some of the incidents that kept coming up. We brought it up with management and provided some options for DEI training, they decided to go another route. Management brought in a consultant completely independent of our suggestions who turned out to be very problematic. We expressed our displeasure to management and instead of working with us to address the problem they dismantled the DEI group we formed and canceled further talks.
During this process I felt that I was the target of retaliation from management. At one point I was called a “security risk” and was unfairly placed on administrative leave for four weeks after I asked a question at an artist’s talk. All this at an institution that prides itself for “free expression.” By the time the administrative leave was rescinded I was that much more committed to fighting for equity at work.
After many trials and tribulations, the members at YCBA have organized and worked together to protect each other. We held many EPM’s with management, participated in a sticker up campaign, and even leafletted the community. Each step of the way we have grown closer as a unit and have pushed the conversation forward. It has been inspiring to see the change we have made as a collective. When we fight for our rights, we win.