Inclusion, Equity, and Antiracism
In December of 2021, the Loft added the statement posted at the bottom of this page to reflect our deep commitment to become an actively antiracist organization. In the interest of transparency and accountability, we pledged to provide an update here by May 1, 2022. Here is that update on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed.
Where we’ve been
In addition to the statement we made in December, the Loft has spent the last year working with Team Dynamics to build intercultural capacities and awareness throughout the organization. This work is ongoing, but it has led to some completed work and next steps. One key part of this process was to develop this document outlining our commitment to antiracism.
Where we are now
Based on our work, we can acknowledge that we are in the Identity Change phase on the Continuum On Becoming an Antiracist Multicultural Institution. This means that the Loft is taking steps to:
- Evolve our organization-wide analysis of systemic racism, whiteness, and power including articulating our analysis of race and commitments as an antiracist organization
- Sponsor antiracism trainings at every level of the organization
- Diversify organizational leadership and decision makers
- Create mechanisms for input, accountability, and ongoing feedback from the community
- Recognize and reflect on the fact that Loft programming and operations have evolved differently resulting in pockets of observable progress along with pockets of persistent challenges.
Where we’re headed
Along with bringing on board the Loft’s first African American executive director, the Loft has begun a strategic planning process. This process will center our antiracism work in everything we’re planning for the years ahead. We will be asking questions of who we are and why we exist—and we expect our answers to link us to our broader community, to the issues of our times, and to integrate our antiracist work into everything we do.
This planning process will include an audit of the functional areas of our organization using an antiracist lens and will include a deep dive into our community learning programs. Our planning process will include the use of a Liberatory Design framework and will engage constituents, community members, and partners past, present, and future.
In addition to this programmatic work, we will be evaluating our organizational culture with a focus on wellness and dismantling white supremacy in our work and relationships.
We look forward to the process before us and to continue to update our community as this work progresses.
(updated April 29, 2022)
Previous statement from Dec 15, 2021
When the Loft was founded in 1974, our primary objective was to be a haven for readers and writers. In the decades that have passed, we've had to rethink what our responsibility as such means. For many years, we've dedicated ourselves to being equitable and inclusive across all of our classes, events, festivals, and conferences.
Our efforts include Equilibrium, our spoken word series that focuses on spoken word artists of color and Indigenous spoken word artists; our class created by, created for, and taught by writers of color and Indigenous writers; Mirrors and Windows, our mentorship program intended to encourage and support writers of color to write for children and young adults; training for our teaching artists on how to incorporate anti-racist tactics in their classrooms; collaborations with organizations that serve culturally specific groups; and a concerted effort to showcase artists of color and Indigenous artists as mentors, judges, writer/performers, and teaching artists, among others.
We have much more to do. More recently, the Loft has committed to become an actively anti-racist organization. While we know how important it is to make our intention known, we also recognize a much bigger truth: intention does not equal impact. We cannot speak being anti-racist into being; we need to reinforce the bones of our organization with anti-racist action points.
That's what we're working on now. With the hire of our brilliant incoming executive director, Arleta Little, we're positioned to take stock and put meaningful tactics into action to reach our goals of equity and inclusion. And we understand how important accountability is, which is why we'll be updating this page by May 1, 2022, with a list of the ways we plan to implement said tactics.
Trust is earned. As a major player in the Twin Cities' literary scene, we understand how important it is that our community can trust us—how important it is that we constantly strive to earn that trust. Our priority is still to be a haven—a truly safe and supportive environment—for every person, be they part of our local, national, or global community.
We encourage any feedback on how we can better serve our constituents and welcome in new voices. Because feedback of this nature is critical to our organization as a whole, we want to be sure to review it as a staff instead of having one point person respond individually. Please know if you don't get a response, it's because we're having a larger discussion on how your feedback will inform our work.