Since sharing our solidarity statement, we have been taking time to process and recognize how, in our first decade, we have excluded, exploited, and misrepresented BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists and community members.
We are reflecting, both individually and as a team, on where we are now in our Anti-Racism work and how we can be held accountable to those most impacted by manifestations of white supremacy going forward. We will share those accountability actions, and how those put us on the path towards reparations, in the coming months.
We are working in service of the list of demands from We See You White American Theatre and in alignment with the cultural competency work WAM started with BRIDGE in 2016, and Kristen started with Nicole Brewer in 2019.
We realize this is long-term work, and are resisting the urge towards immediate knee-jerk responses that we know from our cultural competency training is typical of white supremacist culture.
Like our Diversity Statement, this is a living document and evolving work. We are not coming from a stationary place; we continue to push this forward. We are on a journey.
The WAM Team and Board
Our Solidarity Statement
Show up with whatever you have
Ask ‘are you ok? Here’s what I have, what can I do right now?’
Ask leaders of color where you are needed more
Shut up and go there
What do I have to contribute?
What is most needed right now?
Who do I listen to right now?
How can I be uncomfortable and still lend my strengths- at the same time?
Shut up, show up and listen and know this is about endurance. Don’t just show up now. Show up in 30 days also.
Shared with permission by Leah Cooper, a theatre colleague who lives in Minneapolis, four blocks from where George Floyd was murdered.
In this moment of pain and tragedy, all of us at WAM re-affirm our work in intersectional feminism. We know addressing one spoke of oppression means addressing them all.
We stand in solidarity with all our Black colleagues and with Black communities across the country as we mourn and honor those whose breath was taken from them: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, James Scurlock, and all those whose lives have been taken by anti-Blackness and police brutality.
We celebrate and bear witness to all the Black artists and community members who are in our WAMily. We know you are exhausted. We see you. We hear you. We are here for you. Your lives matter. Black Lives Matter. We will be sharing information in the coming weeks about how our WAMily can directly contribute to you and the organizations you value and support.
We see the pain and the injustice, and we recommit to our personal and professional work in doing what’s necessary towards dismantling the systems of oppression inherent in white supremacy culture and taking action towards a culture of empathy, equity and belonging.
The WAM Theatre Team and Board
WAM Diversity Statement
In 2016 WAM actively began exploring the intersection of gender and racial justice through our FACING OUR TRUTH project with local Berkshire social justice organization BRIDGE. That project began a journey that continues around WAM’s exploration of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.
- We don’t think it is enough to say we are inclusive, we feel it is our duty to demonstrate our inclusiveness by proactively seeking out, inviting and welcoming diverse artists, audience members, employees, partners and beneficiaries.
- We will continue to push ourselves in this regard; creating theatre that is a foundation for innovation, creativity, and societal impact.
- We are aiming to understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group.
In addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage, WAM understands that means we have to address and disrupt them all. This is ongoing developmental personal and professional work at WAM for our staff and board.
With thanks to and permission of Statera Arts we also share their following language around the term ‘Women’:
Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman and those who identify as nonbinary.
Kristen’s TEDx Talk
In February, 2019, WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, gave a TEDx Talk at the North Adams TEDx titled ‘The Discomfort of Community”. In the talk, Kristen shares how the more she works at the intersection of arts and activism, the more she recognizes how being part of the white, cisgender, able-bodied, middle class, heterosexual community is a privilege in which she can no longer afford to be comfortable. If we truly want to be change-makers and contribute to a community of empathy, equity, and belonging, we must learn how to tolerate our discomfort.
Listen as Kristen shares her uncomfortable and unexpected journey towards a personal and professional awakening.
In July 2019, Kristen started Anti-Racist Theatre coaching with Nicole Brewer.
In June 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, WAM Theatre’s board and team spent over a week working with an Anti-Racism Theatre coach, Nicole Brewer, who has been Kristen’s Anti-Racism Theatre coach for a year, and in consultation of some of our BIPOC colleagues (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), to share the following solidarity statement: