We have watched the video of the tragic killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and, now Rashard Brooks in Atlanta. We have witnessed the inspiring groundswell of protests that have spanned the globe. We’ve seen the anger, the grief, the fear and shared in all of it. Like you, we have struggled to grapple with just how to process the level of injustice and cruelty we witnessed in these very public killings and the light they cast on the injustice and the brutality at work in our justice system, as well as the social and economic inequities at work each and every day in this country, visited largely upon people of color from coast to coast.
For those of us whose lives and work are impacted by the arts and culture community in Chicago, it’s important to understand the level of diversity our city enjoys and the many varied voices who speak on this powerful platform of arts and culture. Theater, dance, art and, to perhaps a lesser extent, music in Chicago have all offered a robust and unsegregated platform of expression for artists of color for many decades. Often, but particularly in this moment, that platform has provided an outlet fit for the kind of dialogue necessary for exchange and reflection, the kind of reflection that leads to greater understanding of the issues that lay bare in the wake of these killings. And we need understanding in this moment. It is that search for understanding that inspires us to emerge from this dark period in our country’s path with an even greater resolve to showcase the vast diversity of voice present in the Chicago arts and culture community, and an even greater commitment to amplify those voices seeking to shed light on this very issue and the many implications it has on the lives of African-Americans and other People of Color. From the inequities endemic to law enforcement in the United States to those inherent in everything from healthcare to employment and education across the county, we look to shine a brighter light on the conversations that evolve from these issues and more, all emanating from the Chicago area arts and culture community, in the hopes that true dialogue may manifest, and that arts may fulfill its truest purpose in the Windy City and provide not only an exchange of ideas but serve as a beacon for the kind of real change that has the potential to follow. We stand with the African-American community and those who advocate strongly today for that change.