Black Lives Matter. Black Stories Matter.
June 5, 2020
A Message from Ruth Dickey, SAL Executive Director
Dear friends of Seattle Arts & Lectures,
Black lives matter. Black stories matter. Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) stands in solidarity with Black authors, teaching artists, educators, students, colleagues, board members, volunteers, artists, partners, community members, and audience members. We stand with protestors who are demanding justice.
SAL mourns the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more Black lives lost to centuries of oppression, brutality, and racist violence. And SAL is outraged by their murders, as well as the over 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19, which has disproportionally affected people of color as a result of systemic racism. As a predominantly white-led organization, SAL is committed to actively working to dismantle white supremacy culture and the institutional racism that have brought us to this moment in time.
Becoming actively anti-racist matters profoundly for each and every one of us. For the past several years, SAL staff and board and teaching artists have been investing significant time and resources into this work. On our stages and in WITS classrooms, we’ve made racial equity a priority in our programming and outreach. We’ve revised our hiring guidelines and board and staff recruitment practices to begin to better recruit and retain people of color. We’ll continue to do this work, and we will continue to make mistakes along the way. We will grow, and we will ask our white audience members to grow along with us. We will speak up about the work we are doing.
Words matter; they have the power to spark change and to tell the stories we need to hear. But actions also matter. So how will we take action? We commit to:
- Donating all ticket sales from this moment on for our event with White Rage author Carol Anderson on June 21 to Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, Shade Literary Arts (for their Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund), Creative Justice, and Fair Fight.
- Ensuring that at least 50% of the speakers on our stages are people of color.
- Offering $10 tickets for all of SAL Series events next year, as well as increased free tickets through our Community Access Tickets (CAT) program, to provide greater access to SAL events to historically economically marginalized communities.
- Prioritizing WITS program hours and subsidies to schools with high free and reduced lunch rates, and bringing a racial equity lens to our recruitment, training, and retention efforts with WITS writers to reflect the diversity of the classrooms they serve.
- Working to create radically welcoming spaces and a sense of belonging for our Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) community members—in our classrooms, at our events, and in our workspace.
At our core, SAL is about bringing people together for the most important conversations—and that includes the most difficult conversations. Our programs encourage adults and youth to develop insight into new perspectives, to inspire action, and to build connections with one another through reading and writing and listening deeply to the voices we all need to hear. SAL brings people together to imagine—and reimagine—what our world could be.
Today should have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. Let’s say her name. And let’s write a better world, together.
Ruth E. Dickey Executive Director