EQUITY, DIVERSITY, & INCLUSION
Studio Theatre Worcester stands in solidarity and grieves with Asian and Asian American communities as we mourn the lives lost in Atlanta this week. Eight lives were taken in a series of attacks by one man. Those lives belonged to Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. Eight lives connected to so many others by love and friendship. Eight lifetimes of experiences, joys, talents, and dreams.
While some may continue to debate the motives and premediatations of the murderer, seven of the lives lost were women, six of whom were of Asian descent. These attacks have come after a year of increasing anti-Asian violence. This was a hate crime. Anti-Asian sentiment, discrimination, and violence against Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Americans (APIDA) is not a recent phenomen. There is a long history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S. - legal discrimination, lack of legal protections and recourse, forced internment, theft of property, scapegoating, sexual fetishization, and even the model minority myth used to constantly discredit claims of racism and further marginalize people of Asian descent. We have seen this racism and violence spike significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
This attack was also a hate crime against women. Information shared with the public attributes this attack to the uncontrollable sexual urges of a man and his "bad day". This attack was not about sex but hateful, race and gender-based aggression borne of racist and sexist rhetoric and historical and modern day precedents of violence. We must stop making excuses for men engaging in acts of violence against women and otherwise making allowances for physical aggression as an unavoidable and expected emotional outlet for men in our society.
STW mourns but also hears and accepts the call to action. STW has committed to specific antiracist action within our organization and we remain fully engaged in that work. We also recognize the need for and embrace an intersectional lens in understanding and ending oppression. We are resolute in building and sustaining a theatre community rooted in equity, inclusion, and the lifting up of diverse voices. STW acknowledges the unique and diverse identities among individuals and communities of Asian descent. We own our responsibility as a theatre company to give voice and visibility to these unique and shared stories while rooting out harmful and damaging representations. We are committed to using our stage, both literally and figuratively, to speak out against hate, racism, sexism, and violence.
STW asks all those in our wider STW and Worcester community to commit to specific actions to support the APIDA community. Here are a few things you can start doing today:
Register to attend the Massachusetts Town Hall on Anti-Asian Racism on Thursday, March 25 at 6pm
Report an incident, become more informed, or find more ways to engage at Stop AAPI Hate
Be educated and prepared to intervene as a bystander when witnessing race and gender-based harassment in public spaces
Support the Atlanta-based Asian American Advocacy Fund
Members of the Worcester Arts Community:
Studio Theatre Worcester firmly stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and with the protestors demonstrating over the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks in Georgia, and countless others. We join the millions all over the world in outrage over these unacceptable and heinous shows of unabashed racism and violence. There has been change in our society as a result of these protests, but the fight isn't over. We believe that the systemic racism that plagues our country must be stopped. It is not a time to stay silent.
Studio Theatre Worcester was founded on the belief of fostering equity and diversity within the arts community. We will continue to support Black artists, collaborators, patrons, and the community to provide a safe harbor, not only for artists to tell their stories, but also to support change and create empathy. We call on you to do the same.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Keep Listening. Keep Learning.
Simply, we must utilize our platforms to educate ourselves and fight this evil. It takes more than hashtags and social media posts to institute real change. Evil persists when good people do nothing.
It is important to seek out anti-racist learning opportunities that do not place a burden on your Black friends and colleagues to educate you. Read books, articles, and essays on racism and white privilege. Watch a documentary (like 13th streaming on Netflix). Attend lectures. Find a speaker series. Subscribe to a podcast. Utilize the resources freely available on the internet, including:
- Learn about Implicit Bias. Take a test to see your own biases via Harvard's Project Implicit.
- Review this Anti-Racist Resource Guide created by Anti-Racist researcher, Victoria Alexander, which identifies things to read, watch, listen to, and more;
- Accept the 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge and track your progress using the chart provided through the link.
2. Decide if you are an ally or an advocate
What's the difference? Allies 'stand' with people in a marginalized community. They offer support and learn/reflect on the issues. Advocates provide assistance in dismantling the structures that oppress a group of people. They are action-oriented and actively challenge the existing establishments and systems designed to hold people back.
3. Donate and make your voice heard
Identify a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to the Black population. Do your research to ensure that a significant portion of your donation goes to the program itself, rather than administrative costs or C-level salaries. For example, over 74% of money donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund goes toward the program to empower real change.
Sign online petitions. There are hundreds of petitions available to make your voice heard. They only take a minute to support the cause, and can easily show an immense groundswell of support.
WHAT CAN STUDIO THEATRE WORCESTER DO?
We know that actions speak louder than words. Studio Theatre Worcester has taken this opportunity to look within ourselves as an organization. While we are relatively young, we realize we can do more in this fight. STW CAN and WILL do better. Studio Theatre Worcester plans to join these efforts as an advocate and pledges the following:
Studio Theatre Worcester will immediately create the new position of Director of Diversity and Inclusion to serve on the STW Board of Directors and will begin the search to fill this position immediately. This position will help establish policies and programs that continues to drive diversity and inclusivity throughout all levels of the organization.
Studio Theatre Worcester will begin the planning process to further expand our Board of Directors and ensure there is fair representation from the Black community and other PoC.
Studio Theatre Worcester, in conjunction with local advocacy organizations, will give a voice to Black artists by featuring more stories and writers from the Black community.
Studio Theatre Worcester will include anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings in our monthly Board of Directors meetings. Additionally, we will find ways to make these learnings readily available to everyone.
Studio Theatre Worcester will establish regular check-ins with the Black community and other PoC in the community and actively seek feedback on programming, community engagement, and artistic/administrative/educational opportunities.
Studio Theatre Worcester will review every policy currently in place with an anti-racism viewpoint and revise as necessary. Additionally, we will ensure further governing documents are written with perspective in mind.
Studio Theatre Worcester will continue to stand by, and make more prominent, our zero tolerance policies on discrimination and harassment.
Studio Theatre Worcester will accelerate its investment in innovation to drive down costs with the end of goal of ensuring arts and arts education programs remain affordable to ALL.