Black lives matter. Young Audiences stands with those fighting for justice in Maryland, Minneapolis, Louisville, and across our country. We honor those who have been murdered and otherwise harmed by our nation’s systemic racism and police brutality.
We recognize that #BlackLivesMatter is a movement, not a moment, and as an organization it is our responsibility to be engaged and stay engaged—both in this powerful moment, and in those that follow. We acknowledge that our organization has benefitted from systems of oppression, and in the fight for racial justice, we must continue to examine and change our own organizational practices and culture.
Artists shape culture. Artists help us to see, understand, and express injustice. And, if we want to build a world that is just—we as a society need to be able to imagine that world. The arts are critical to that.
Knowing that this time, while not new, is extremely challenging for Black people, we wanted to share a Black only healing space that some may be interested in:
- The Healing Hour: On Thursday, June 4, a safe space on Zoom for Black voices to process feelings surrounding black lives lost to police brutality, hosted by a Black clinician Brie Sutton, LGPC
We also want to share some of the organizations and resources that we have found valuable in our learning. The resources below are just some of many resources to explore.
We are committed to continuing to learn. To listen. To question. To be questioned. To respond. To act. We look forward to growing together.
- WombWork Productions, Inc.
- Baltimore Racial Justice Action
- Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
- Teacher’s Democracy Project
- The National Black Lives Matter Week of Action in our Schools
- Baltimore Ceasefire
- Two Baltimores: The White L vs. the Black Butterfly by Dr. Lawrence Brown
- White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It’s not.by Robin DiAngelo
- Rethinking Schools: “Racial Justice is not a choice” by Wayne Au
- The Year I Gave Up White Comfort: An Ode to my White “Friends” on Being Better to Black Womxn by Rachel Ricketts
- Filling our Cups: 4 Ways People of Color can Foster Mental Health and Practice Restorative Healing by Threads of Solidarity: WOC Against Racism
- How to Set a Boundary and Survive the Shame and Guilt That Follows by Fat Black Sadistic
By Jessica Porter, Young Audiences Program Director
Tuesday morning in Baltimore began with a somber tone. As community members cleaned up our streets, led peaceful demonstrations, and opened their doors to their neighbors who needed a place to go, reflect, and process, something beautiful began to happen.
Early on in the day, I was struggling to find ways to productively volunteer. Despite our initial frustrations, the Young Audiences staff worked collaboratively with each other and with our artists to identify ways to positively affect the lives of quite a few people in meaningful, creative, and important ways throughout the day.
Young Audiences’ musician Kevin Martin volunteered to provide his Steel Drum Experience program, with children and volunteers who were spending the day at The 29th Street Community Center. Our very own Chief Innovation Officer Pat Cruz and several Young Audiences staff partnered with puppeteer Michael Lamason to get arts activities, such as mural painting, puppet making, and a free puppet show, off the ground at Black Cherry Puppet Theater.
This doesn’t even touch on the powerful work our artists were doing on their own! In a 10-minute span of the local news Tuesday evening, I saw at least four different artists I’ve worked with in some capacity during my time at Young Audiences right in the epicenter of the healing taking place in our city. Having long been active members of the communities in which they live, many of our artists are poised to lead the change that our city deserves.
When Kevin called me to say he was on his way to the 29th Street Community Center, I decided to come along. There were only about a dozen students at the center, and probably just as many volunteers, but seeing the smiles on those kids faces was the hope that I needed. I could tell the experience provided a much needed spark for the other adults too. The students chose to name our band “Monkey Kids.” Though we had only 40 minutes together, at the end we performed a rough rendition of the Toots and the Maytals’ song “Monkey Man”–and everyone walked away beaming.
Across town at Black Cherry Puppet Theater, more than 30 kids and parents gathered to draw, paint, and create their own puppets before a free puppet show mid-afternoon. This was a true community effort, as artists donated their time and volunteers contributed food and labor.
We’ve all got a lot of work to do in order to see the change our city needs, but I am more confident than ever in the transformational power of our work, and thanks to my experience, I am once again hopeful for our city’s future.