Dear Teen Programs Community:
Even with the uncertainty of what lies ahead for us as an organization due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, we feel it is important to speak up and take action against long-standing acts of violence aimed at black people in this country. It has been difficult to figure out what to say to you, the young people with whom we work and value as part of our community, knowing many of you may be feeling anger, confusion, and hopelessness. There are multiple layers of grief to work through and as an arts organization, we believe the arts are a way forward to healing, finding hope and possibility, and taking action.
As a team we have worked to establish the building blocks to educate ourselves and work from an anti-racist, culturally sustaining lens, in order to dismantle the systems of white supremacy that affect so many people, especially young black and brown people. However, we still have a long way to go to make that a sustained part of our internal operations and external programming. We have and will probably make mistakes, but we are committed to self-examination, so that we can identify when our actions and programming perpetuate racist systems and work to disrupt that cycle.
Moving forward we have made a commitment to:
- Intentionally invest time, resources and energy in learning about and implementing anti-racist methodologies
- Move beyond acknowledgement and into needed actions to unroot white supremacy and decolonize our thinking and approach to youth development and arts education
- Ensure we listen to and amplify the voices and lived experiences of young people who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color and LGBTQ+ as they create artistic responses to the world around them and build the skills they need to be leaders tomorrow.
- Be a space for you to question, call us in, call us out, share your experience, as we commit every day to these principles.
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.