Since coming to Fishtrap in 2015, I worked to keep local and national political issues largely separate from Fishtrap’s messaging. I felt it was important that we avoid language that might prevent someone from interacting with Fishtrap — accessing the people and resources that challenge us all the be clearer thinkers and better writers, regardless of backgrounds or beliefs. I believed and still do, that it is only through coming together to share ideas, experiences, and work that we build a stronger community. There are times, however, when keeping separate, staying silent, can cause real harm.
The issues that have finally been brought to the forefront nationally over the past several weeks call for a different approach. We can no longer say we didn’t know about the tragedy of systemic racism. We can’t separate language or programming because those of us who have been raised in privilege might feel uncomfortable. Our black, indigenous, and brown community members deserve better from all of us. They deserve to be seen, heard. And Fishtrap has a real responsibility to use all of its platforms to help amplify their stories. To those we have harmed with our silence, I deeply apologize.
We will do better. Here’s how we start.
- Listening. We will work with our partners to develop listening sessions in the coming year. First, we must listen to the people who are most impacted by unjust systems. Second, there are remarkable and informed young people who are leading us all in this work. We need to hear their ideas on how to build a better world for them. Finally, we need to hear from you. How can we create programming that serves today’s community?
- Learning: Fishtrap has long prioritized lifelong learning. Now we need to step it up internally. It’s our job to do the work, to read about our shared history and unshared experiences. The Fishtrap staff and board will prioritize ongoing training devoted to increasing the effectiveness of our work in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are currently working on a list of books and that we will post on our site in the coming days.
- Creating. Writing is an act of courage. Our words have real power to affect change. Whether it’s through a shared poem in Circle of Seasons, or a powerful new manuscript, Fishtrap will continue to support your writing through workshops, readings, and events.
Please stay connected. We need to hear from you. Challenge us all to do better.
Sent with hope,