Sajata Epps (ACC 2018) posted this powerful image on #BlackoutTuesday "in response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement being hijacked by opportunistic political and social agendas that counter the cause." Prompted by this post, ACC asked Sajata: “How can ACC be better allies?” Read her response below. 

As an American, I am outraged by the response to Mr. Floyd’s death. It’s simply not ok to exploit the death of a man for a political or social agenda movement. In America there is and always has been a racial issue due to how this country was built. Every day in the city of New York people play the game of racial inequality against one another in order to get ahead in their careers and move up in class and status while never admitting what their participation is doing to set us all back as a people and as a community.

Sadly, you would think that those who are written in history as our oppressors would be playing the lead in these actions but in fact this can even come from our own races. We have to understand that racism is NOT OK no matter where it is coming from. We need to identify the actual problem instead of villainize certain groups that fit the profile of our supposed enemies. If you participate in the hatred and unfairness then you are also the blame no matter what your race happens to be.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, people have lost their incomes, and everyone is stressed out. These are all facts that we all know. At this time more than ever we should be coming together to collectively solve the problems we are all collectively facing in this uncertain future. We should not be trying to figure out how to best profit from an unfortunate loss of life....of many lives!

The question remains, how can ACC become a better ally in this ongoing battle? By being a voice to spread awareness that not all people of color sell drugs or don’t have fruitful jobs that change communities for the better. By supporting artists that do speak up against racial inequality and who want to do better and be better for the sake of social progression. By stating CLEARLY that racism is not ok from ANYONE!

Sajata Epps (Founder & Designer, SAJATA-E FOR D2BD) received an ACC Fellowship in 2018, traveling to Hong Kong and Taiwan to engage with artists, urban farmers, and community members around sustainable art practices. Working from a zero-waste model, Sajata creates textiles that reduce or eliminate non-recyclable waste produced by new product design.

She is a Teaching Artist at The Laundromat Project, Co-Founder of Kelly Street Garden, and a certified urban organic farmer. In residence at Bamboo Curtain Studio (ACC 2005, 2015) in Taiwan, she led workshops based on her Natural Knitting Project, a collaborative arts project focused on creating everyday products in eco-friendly ways. “Design has always been the way I could truly express myself to my community,” she wrote when applying to ACC, “It is my goal to create designs that have the smallest footprint possible. Better for the environment, better for the community, better for design creativity.” While her ecological footprint is small, the impact of her work and artistic voice is powerful.

Sajata Epps on her ACC Fellowship in Hong Kong with filmmaker Fredie Chan Ho Lun (ACC 2019)

Grantee Reflections is a platform for ACC alumni to share their collective voice as an international community of artists, scholars, and cultural ambassadors. This is a cultural exchange of words, image, video, and sound from around the world. While our bodies cannot travel, our minds can still meet.