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    A MESSAGE FROM THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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    For over 28 years, The Unusual Suspects has partnered with communities across Los  Angeles to provide young people and families with the opportunity to discover and  celebrate their unique voices by expressing themselves through theater. 

    Our goal has always been to help make the world a more hopeful, equal, and safe place.  In recent weeks, our Teaching Artists have brought it to the Board’s attention that there  is more work to be done to nurture and serve the well-being of our students, families,  Teaching Artists, and Staff. We agree that we must not only create a space where youth  from diverse backgrounds can feel seen, heard, and known, but also ensure the spaces  we create take into consideration the institutional barriers that impact their everyday  lives. We acknowledge that our organization has inadvertently enabled harmful  educational and political systems, despite the best of intentions when we were founded  nearly three decades ago. Times have changed, and so have we. Our Board, Staff, and  Teaching Artists, in cooperation with the communities we serve and other stakeholders,  are committed to continuing the transformative work necessary to reflect our values as  an anti-racist, abolitionist, and anti-colonial organization. 

    We are actively working to improve communications around our organization’s  operations, decision-making, and programming development among our Teaching  Artists and Staff. We are an organization in the midst of a pandemic recovery and  rebuilding efforts; this is a moment of great change, and communication is incredibly  important. We take responsibility for the negative impact of mishandled or delayed  communications around employee departures, organizational concerns, and our  commitment to fostering an anti-racist, abolitionist, and anti-colonial organization. We  regret the pain and confusion this has caused, and we are committed to doing better. 

    The Board is also committed to its continuing efforts to better reflect the communities we  serve by onboarding new board members with diverse intersectional identities. We  acknowledge that a lack of clarity on how to apply for board membership does not  promote inclusion, and we commit to making our board membership process more open  and transparent. We also commit to ensuring our future fundraising initiatives more  closely reflect our fundamental belief in empowering our young people. 

    Our work would not be possible without the dedicated Teaching Artists who deliver  programming to our youth and families. We acknowledge that the organization must do  better to incorporate intersectionality of social identities and experiences into our  organization’s practices and policies, and are committed to ensuring  PGM/BIPOC/SWANA Teaching Artists are not asked to draw on personal experiences to  support student learning related to oppression, power, and control, and have the  resources they need to thrive and succeed. 

    We are immeasurably grateful to our Teaching Artists and Staff for doing the hard labor 

    LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: 

    We at The Unusual Suspects acknowledge the Tongva, the Keech, the Chumash, and the Pakoivitam, as well as all Indigenous Peoples of the unceded land upon which this organization operates and serves. We recognize that Indigenous Peoples are still here and commit to uplifting their stories, culture, and community. We acknowledge that many of the institutions that make up our society, and that we benefit from, were founded upon exclusions and erasures of many Indigenous Peoples.

    We are committed to beginning the process of dismantling ongoing legacies of settler colonialism through the intentional actions of our organization and ourselves.

    A MESSAGE FROM THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS BOARD

    For over 28 years, we have partnered with communities across Los Angeles to provide young people from under-resourced neighborhoods the opportunity to discover their unique voices by expressing themselves through theatre. 

    Our goal has always been to help make the world a more hopeful, equal, and safe place. In recent weeks, our Teaching Artists have brought it to the Board’s attention that there is more work to be done to nurture and serve the well-being of our students, families, Teaching Artists and Staff. We must not only create a space where youth from diverse backgrounds can feel seen, heard, and known, but ensure the spaces we create take into consideration the institutional barriers that impact their everyday lives.

    We know that systemic racism permeates our communities. That is why The Unusual Suspects is committed to providing curricula that is informed by anti-racist, abolitionist, and anti-colonial principles and offering ample resources to our students, families, Teaching Artists and Staff to support their needs.

    Tearing down the structures of inequality begins at home. To that end, we are actively working to improve communications around our organization’s operations, decision-making and programming development among our Teaching Artists and Staff. Because the more we communicate and collaborate, the better our programming, and the better we can serve our shared community.

    As we continue to grow and evolve, the Unusual Suspects is working to further integrate these principles into the fabric of our organization. Stay tuned over the coming months to learn more about what we’re doing to support this mission.

    Sincerely,

    The Unusual Suspects Board

    WE ARE COMMITTED TO

    ANTI-RACISM

    An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity (https://www.racialequitytools.org/glossary)

    ABOLITIONISM

    a person who favors the abolition of a practice or institution, especially capital punishment or (formerly) slavery.
    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolitionism)

    ANTI-COLONIOLISM

    defined as the active resistance against colonial powers, and a shifting of power towards political, economic, educational, cultural, psychic independence and power that originate from a colonized nation’s own indigenous culture. This process occurs politically and also applies to personal and societal psychic, cultural, political, agricultural, and educational deconstruction of colonial oppression. (https://www.racialequitytools.org/glossary)

    • Anti-Racism

      “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Y. Davis

    • Abolitionist

      “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
      – Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, former slave

    • Anti-Coloniolism

      “The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past.”
      ― Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

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