Black lives matter. Full stop.
The need to affirm that black lives matter is a direct result of white supremacy that has existed in western culture since before the United States existed, and has been with our country since it was founded. One of the first acts of congress was to capitulate to white supremacists who owned slaves in order to preserve the Union. From that Great Mistake, a country was formed in which white supremacy was baked into the very foundation. It has continued to run through our nation to this day, never leaving, only mutating to fit the times. Today, white supremacy can be seen in the significantly higher prison rates that POC face compared to white Americans. It can be seen in the disproportionate economic outcomes we see between communities of color and white communities. It can be seen in the way our country extracts wealth and human lives from communities in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, the Middle East, and around the world. Most visibly, and horrifyingly, it can be seen in the systemic murder of our black and brown brothers, sisters, and non-binary folk. We cannot escape our past and we must acknowledge our present: white supremacy stains this country. It stains every action, every word uttered by those in power, and it continues to brutally oppress those whom it deems "others" in our communities. Albuquerque is certainly not immune to this. There are countless stories and statistics that prove how prevalent white supremacy has rooted itself in our city and our way of life. When Arts Hub was collecting data to discover the barriers artists face in Albuquerque, it was reaffirmed time and time again that systemic racism will continue to hold our creative community back until we deal with it head-on.
While the time for change was centuries ago, we all only have now to take appropriate actions. We can take steps to make our present and future a better place to live. This is why Arts Hub is dedicating tangible, cash resources to support black artists and activists who are fighting on the front lines to bring change. We are inspired by the words of author Toni Cade Bambara who stated "the role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible." Revolution is necessary and its' irresistibility has been shown by artists of color in Albuquerque for generations. The claim that art can help change the world is often thrown around as a meaningless platitude. Now is the time to prove it. We say this not as a performative gesture, but rather as a call to action. It is time for our fellow arts organizations, foundations, public officials, and citizens (especially those claiming to be white allies) to take the lead of black and brown artists, organizers, and people in dismantling white supremacy. For too long, we have sat on the sidelines and clutched our pearls. For too long we have watched the brutal oppression of those we claim to love because action and words made us feel uncomfortable. No more. Communities of color need no savior, but silence and inaction of "well-meaning" white communities can no longer be a roadblock to full liberation for all peoples.
To those claiming to be allies, let us be clear: if you choose to sit this out, if you choose to create a false equivalency between the systemic oppression of communities of color and your individual experiences as a white person, if you choose inaction because action makes you uncomfortable-you are on the side of the oppressor.
Do not make that choice.
If you are an ally who wishes to help but does not know where to start, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We are certainly not perfect. We are learning and do not have all of the answers, but we can grow together and take action that makes us better allies.
To communities, artists, and people of color: We hear you. We see you. Your lives matter and the work you have been doing to dismantle white supremacy is nothing short of astounding. As you are the experts in fighting this horror, we will follow your lead and be an active part in dismantling the system that fails you time-and-time again. This system which was codified into our nation's soul from the very beginning is, unfortunately, working exactly as it intended. It is time to tear it down and build one that provides justice for all.