As our country continues to reel in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death–and so many other senseless deaths–those of us in predominantly white communities are grappling with helplessness and guilt, reckoning with the ways we may have inadvertently taken part in or benefitted from our nation’s racism. Many of us are asking: what can we do?
We know it is no longer enough to protest. It is no longer enough to post on social media and plant signs in our lawns. We know that we need to look deeper for ways we can catalyze real change as individuals and as institutions.
Writers in Progress stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We stand with those who are demanding justice and an end to the insidious intolerance that has plagued our society for too long, taking lives and silencing voices. We have long had a no-tolerance policy toward discrimination of any kind in our studio. But is it enough?
Emily and I have been talking long and hard about the undisputed lack of Black writers in so many Valley writing studios, including our own. We have been brainstorming ways that we can take responsibility for this inequity and encourage more diversity in our workshops. We are examining the role we may have played in allowing this to occur, and are taking steps toward fostering greater inclusivity in our writing community:
Next, we will strive to create an environment in which BIPOC writers feel supported, safe, understood, and welcomed. We know that the first step to achieving this goal is to have a faculty that represents and reflects the diversity we long to see in our student population. We are committed to supporting BIPOC writers by offering paid opportunities to teach, and are actively seeking ways to recruit more writers of color to lead workshops, host book launches, organize readings, and share their stories and expertise. We look forward to this being reflected in our upcoming offerings.
We know that these are mere baby steps, and that real change can only take place if each of us makes an ongoing commitment to keeping this conversation alive. We must not forget the grief and outrage. We must vow to continue searching our hearts, minds, and imaginations for ways to do better. We must continue to reach out.
As writers, we are already committed to digging deep, to pushing beyond our comfort zones in search of truth. We cannot be true to our art or our stories unless that truth is universal enough to acknowledge our own blind spots. We will continue the conversation and are open to suggestions about how we can best do our part.