Wow. As I’m still processing this, I don’t really know what to say, but it’s something I do think needs to be adressed.
Adam Gray, assistant director of the FIT writing center, (where I work as a writing tutor) unexpectedly passed away two days ago. He was one of my favorite faculty members at FIT. He was super smart, present and aware in ways most people just aren’t. He was just a really special person.
Below is what I wrote to go to into a booklet that’s being sent to his parents.
“I don’t know if you know, but your son was a quiet revolutionary.
As a black women from the south, and member of the queer community, I often struggle to find to people to connect with, especially within the hierarchal system of academia. Yet, we established a special connection, that did not merely transcend or ignore our plethora of different life circumstances, and experiences, but instead used those differences to build a more dynamic and full relationship.
He valued truth, in all forms it came in, from the disenfranchised, the unheard and marginalized, he brought this into his practice, his work, and our community. It was obvious, from the books he suggested, language he used, and topics he studied, he cared about the voice & story of people that most usually don’t. Those voices being inner-city black and brown kids coming from working class backgrounds, such as myself, who speak, think and perceive the world differently.
As our society has more and more visible acts of rage and violence, one of the most revolutionary, and most challenging, acts anyone can do is listen to people who are different from them. And that’s what Adam did, listen, and spent his time here at FIT, investigating ways to better equip tutors and students to own their voice, and by doing so, their story, their experience, their purpose.
His work is done, nor his voice is not lost. He can be found in notes, quotes and suggestions scribbled in my notebooks, emails and the energy of our writing community. I hope our words help illuminate the indescribable impact your son had in his work, at FIT and on us all.”