Like all institutions, we must do more to work for justice and change
June 10, 2020
By Julie Decker, Anchorage Museum Director/CEO
As our country confronts systemic inequality, we have a responsibility to be part of the change. We are part of the shared history and we should be part of the shared work of change.
It starts with self. We all must personally and individually examine our own thoughts, ideas, actions, privilege and bias. We can listen and learn. Then we can do some hard work together.
Our organizational values are aligned with building authentic and lasting solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Color, and we can work collectively to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice. We also know that solidarity can be helpful, or it can be performative. We have to be conscious of histories, including a long history of white participation in black freedom struggles––efforts to achieve substantive interracial solidarity are still plagued today by white activists centering themselves and leveraging movements for their own purposes.
Our organization has a voice for change and justice. We must use it now and serve as a force for good. We have the ability to play a positive role if we sustain and strengthen our empathy, passion and courage. We cannot divide and destruct or participate in efforts to demean and diminish. We also have to recognize and acknowledge racism that exists in our system—as the Anchorage Museum, as a cultural institution, and as part of the city, state, region and country.
As a cultural organization, we have a responsibility to understand systems of power and histories of oppression and to work to dismantle them. This begins with an authentic interrogation of the ways we uphold and perpetuate narratives that reinforce systems of inequity. Like all institutions, we must do more.
- Move forward with humility and openness. Institutions must do better. We must do better.
- Commit to tangible and lasting change.
- Understand that this work must be done every day continuously and long-term; it is not episodic. It will not happen instantaneously nor overnight.
- Understand our response must be tangible.
- Understand leading as an arts organization requires internal conversation alongside conversations with the people we serve.
- Will work to lead by example.
Some steps we will take:
- We will begin a comprehensive program to educate ourselves about anti-racism, white privilege, white fragility, and African American and Indigenous history in America.
- We will develop internal working groups to examine and develop policies, practices and programs that contribute to a more equitable future.
- We will seek external input and invite conversation. We will listen.
- We will set firm and clear targets to increase the representation of people of color on our staff, at all levels, and hold ourselves accountable.
- We will be accountable to upholding and leading through our values.
- We will uphold freedom of expression.
- We will champion respectful dialogue.
- We will seek ways to support and grow the careers of curators and museum professionals of color.
- We will work on diversity at all levels of the organization, including the Board of Directors.
- We will continue to grow the museum’s collections and exhibitions of art by African Americans, Latinx, women, LGBTQ+, Indigenous people, Asian Americans and artists of color.
These steps are only a start. We all must think and act on these issues constantly and consistently for change to happen. As we do this work, we will measure progress and update the specificity of these goals, targets and commitments.
We recommit to our community to make a difference and to positively impact the lives of others.
Thank you for your belief in a better future together.
To read more about the Anchorage Museum's mission for diversity, equity and inclusion, visit our commitment and policy pages here.