To the arts organizations of color, although we have collectively pushed for “equity and inclusion” like forever... there are now some funding opportunities that have responded, not nearly enough but they’re there.
It seems that a good part of the reason why funders are slow to respond is because the quality of the applications submitted.
1. When asked what or how the program is accessible and inclusive, and the response is pretty limited to ADA compliance and or we don’t discriminate on the basis of... 🤦🏾♂️
What we need to be articulating is how there’s barriers to participating and that maybe our program built in funds to assist youth with public transportation (if it doesn’t, consider it), or how you’ve removed gender-binary language from youth programs to reduce any possible bullying.
2. When addressing issues of safety.
Don’t limit your perspective to having security guards on site or frameworks that criminalize the very community being served.
Consider incorporating or training staff to learn about navigating conversation through a harm-reduction approach. A “safe space” free from difficult conversation is never a healthy space. In fact it might create more trauma and again further instills punitive perspectives. And can perpetuate toxic call out culture.
3. On the topic of cultural competency, we’re way past the point of homogenizing cultural traditions and celebrations. We can do much much better.
For example this doesn’t mean that your Mexican or Chicano teaching artist has the knowledge or lived experience to teach primarily Indigenous youth (although from a very specific region in Mexico) about a cultural tradition of their region. Why not seek out a community member that does know these traditions and is knowledge carrier for the community.
Let’s go beyond Day of the Dead and Mariachi programs as themes and topics for Spanish speaking populations.
Let’s have those teaching artists serve as technical assistants to those knowledge carriers and elders that the community already recognizes as such.
It’s heartbreaking when youth and community programs collapse because these things aren’t considered and or funds are secured to sustain them.