A note about this community memo: On June 4th our organization put out a public statement demanding the Portland Press Herald editors add information citing the black women who began a project we were participating in. They had been omitted from the article despite our staff requests (and a written e-mail confirmation from the writer) to ensure their visibility. This was not the first time we noticed and experienced the erasure of BIPOC collaborators and artists we worked with in press coverage we participated in. The most recent had been an interaction with an incredible grantee and creative studio, Pendeja. We are now apologizing for not having acted on their behalf and taking these actions sooner. SPACE staff previously prioritized maintaining press contacts and relationships, even when asking for corrections. Our past silence caused harm for not more bravely standing up for public accountability of rigorous journalism practices, and advocating unashamed for the crediting of artistic labor and intellectual property. We resolve to do better and be braver with any privilege or relationship we have.
We need to take a moment to pause, reflect, and most immediately, sincerely apologize. We don’t want to be centering our story at this time, but silence is not an option and we need to be accountable for our mistakes. The statement this morning was made from our place of privilege, clouded by emotion and urgency, and we did not fully examine how it would be read and felt by many members of our community. We apologize to Pendeja Studio, who appropriately called us out. All of their feelings are completely valid. We have not supported them enough; we have not been a good partner and ally. Furthermore, we need to be honoring them, because despite our failings, their conviction in speaking out inspired us to take a stronger stance with local media this morning than we ever have before. We also apologize for all the community harm we have caused today, which we are sure has impacted more people than we know.
We value and celebrate the contributions of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to SPACE, including staff, interns, artists, performers, volunteers, advisors, and community partners. We would not be here without them. They have strengthened this organization by compelling us to work harder and be better.
Still, we cannot ignore the fact that we have been a majority white and white-led institution for our 18-year history. It is far past time that we reconsider our role in this community and our personal and institutional commitments to equity, transparency, and above all, the dismantling of systemic racism in our own organization and our work. We have been complicit and complacent. We have not always listened. We know it will take time to create and implement detailed plans for real institutional change, but there are pledges we can make today.
We will embrace radical ideas and radical change from thinkers and community members far beyond our staff. We will listen more and talk less. We will cede our platform to voices that need to be heard. We will directly address the systemic issues in our organization in order to diversify our staff and leadership. We can and will do better. We must. We welcome your feedback and criticism more than ever. We will continue to make mistakes, but we hope our community can help hold us accountable. And we thank Pendeja Studio for speaking out as they have, for leading by example, and for their powerful work.
We acknowledge this is only a statement. We simply have not done enough and we need to do better. We can only resolve these issues with sustained commitment to action.