Dear Washington Revels Community,
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers — another in a long history of atrocities — fills us all with horror, sadness, and anger. Washington Revels condemns the systemic racism and oppression that permits police brutality, that limits opportunity for Black communities and other communities of color, and that has, for too long, allowed the rest of us to live as if real change were not needed and mere “thinking right” were enough.
Floyd’s murder reminds us of the oppression that Revelers of color, their families, and their communities face on a daily basis, and what their predecessors have faced since before the founding of this country — and the inherent White privilege that is afforded to other Revelers as a terrible birthright.
Our friends and neighbors cry out for change. Our institutions need to change. Washington Revels must change.
As a majority White organization, we know that racism is inherent within our systems and structures. We may not always see it, we may never have intended it, but it is there, and racism has prevented Washington Revels from achieving the inclusive environment that nurtures a diverse community — one that invites each person to fully participate and to be welcomed with openness and respect.
Our work starts now. Washington Revels will begin by listening, by learning, and by looking at what voices are at the table in our leadership structures, because without changing who is part of the conversation, the conversation stays the same:
- We are immediately dissolving our Advisory Board and our Artistic Advisors — each made up, respectively, of former Board Members and longtime artistic staff, many of whom are no longer active — all of whom are White.
- We will listen with intention to our community members of color in order to learn what assumptions, blind spots, and systems have kept us from making progress towards social and racial equity, and so that we can explore different and meaningful ways to involve diverse community members in all aspects of Washington Revels.
- From these conversations we will form a new advisory group that represents the diversity of races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and religious affiliations — that are present in our community but have not always been heard — to be a new voice in organizational decisions.
These are only first steps. The road ahead is long, but we are committed to making Washington Revels a more equitable organization. We do not have all the answers. We know that we will stumble. But we will go forward, together, striving for inclusivity and maintaining an active voice in fighting against injustice in all we do as an organization from this point onward.
Please join us on this journey.