This letter is to our white allies and accomplices. I am writing to acknowledge that we, as a Black and Queer led organization, see who is and is not putting out statements regarding the protests happening across our country. And, more importantly, that we also see who is and is not taking substantive action to backup their statements.
For our Black members, you can skip ahead to the resources below. For our LGBTQ+, disabled, and non-Black POC members, you may know some of this ish, but we ask you to read on anyway.
Trayvon died in 2012, Renisha McBride in 2013, Eric Garner in 2014, Sandra Bland in 2015, Philando Castile 2016, Jordan Edwards 2017, Stephon Clark in 2018, Atatiana Jefferson and Botham Jean killed in their own homes in 2019, and now in 2020 George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor and those names are without me thinking too hard.
Are you shocked, saddened, dismayed? Are you asking yourself, “how does this keep happening”? I ask you to sit with that for a minute. Ask yourself, why am I shocked? Am I shocked? Am I truly sad, or is it that I understand intellectually that I should be sad, that from afar, I know these events are sad, but they do not actually touch me. You’re teaching your children to love all people, but are you teaching them to stand up to injustice? Did you reach out to your black friend yesterday to say, I see you, I hear you, I am ready to act? What does that really mean to you, to be ready to act? Interrogate it. What am I willing to do to help my fellow humans get to realize their humanity? Run scenarios. Test the theory in your mind. When you realize what you truly will and won’t do, are you happy, pleased, surprised, proud, did you find room for improvement?
What do your Black friends need? Well, we’re not a monolith, so I’ll speak for myself. I need you to move from ready to engaged. Weaponize your privilege for the benefit of those of us with a boot on our necks. You see some BS going on, say something, you have the power. If an individual who is not black uses the N-word, speak up. Full stop. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, BE THE CHANGE.
Are you in a conversation where someone makes a gross racially based generalization about the folks you say you hold dear, correct them. Be ready to irritate people, be ready to lose friends, to make an enemy, because that’s what real change is gonna mean. Not always, but yes, sometimes. It means standing up and being uncomfortable. Real change is inconvenience and confronting things that scare you, not intellectually confronting but actually confronting. Do black people you don’t know make you nervous? Ask yourself why. And then do the work to change that, without asking us how to do that work. If you find yourself policing the tone of this email, saying things like, “I understand her anger, but does she have to…”, think about why that is. Does it mean, I can be angry, but only if I express it in ways that make you comfortable, that don’t confront you, that don’t put my pain in full relief?
You have the power to get between your black friends, colleagues, community, and harm, think of yourself as Captain America a white shield perse’, yes you’re gonna sustain some damage, but for your black friends we’re faced with death and that is not hyperbole. You see that now, right? If not, go back and read those names, that’s a small representation of the last 8 years and those are just the names I think you know. There are scores more from decades past well into the present and you hold the power to stop it, but it will take more than an email, more than producing a show, it will take discomfort and awkwardness and sadness and sticking your neck out. If you’re already doing that, keep it up. I am grateful. If you’re not I encourage you to act next time the opportunity arises. We've compiled a list of anti-racism resources for you. Start with the resources below, then head to our website to learn more.
I am out here everyday working for the entire community, all walks of life, all disciplines, ALL. It would be dope to know you’ve got my back.
*opens door* Hey y'all, you can come on back in.
StageSource is currently taking a moment to gather all information and educate ourselves about direct action items that effect laws and policies moving forward. They will be updated on our website. We call on our individual members and organization members to step up to the plate and act on them moving forward. Please know that this page is a “living document” and will be updated accordingly.
— Dawn M. Simmons | she/her/hers
Executive Director, StageSource