Though Literary Arts’ commitment to equity is not new, its official place in our public documents is. Although the organization has been engaged in the work for about five years (with significant progress in programming, hiring and other internal practices, and community partnerships), much of this work has been done without a formal statement of intent.
We at Literary Arts recognize that publicly committing to equity is crucial to both our own growth and that of the Portland arts and culture ecosystem generally.
Stories are powerful. The stories that get told define who we are for ourselves and others. Who has the opportunity to tell their story, and who does not? And who has an audience that listens, reads, and engages with that story?
The history of who can tell their story and who is empowered to reach a wide audience is intertwined with a legacy of oppression, racism, and privilege. At Literary Arts, we acknowledge that, as an historically white organization, we have been part of this history.
We are committed to a different future, one in which all members of our community have the opportunity to tell their stories, particularly members of our communities of color. Though we acknowledge there are a variety of marginalized and oppressed identities within our community, our emphasis in this work is on race and ethnicity. Facility and comfort with the language of racial oppression can be used to develop empathy and understanding across issues of gender, sexual orientation, and ability. It is our hope that by addressing racial inequity in our community, we will create a space in which readers, writers, and youth of any and all identities feel welcome.
We commit ourselves programmatically to:
- Define our mission broadly to include all forms of literature and storytelling.
- Support more writers of color and highlight their stories.
- Build a diverse, intergenerational audience for literature.
- Create equitable access to our programs.
We commit ourselves administratively to:
- Create a staff, board, and volunteer base reflective of our community.
- Apply the best practices and tools to ensure that the organizational systems are equitable.
In all of the above, we strive to work with humility and in collaboration with our community to be adaptable and responsive, and to better accomplish these important goals. We recognize the work will be slow and difficult, and that we will make mistakes.
We are committed to doing this work for the long term.
Your feedback is invaluable to this work. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions we welcome you to submit them using the comment box below.