There is no place for racism or indifference to anti-Black violence and hatred in our community. We feel grief, anger, and despair over the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and so many other Black lives. We see you. We hear you. We’re listening and will continue to listen. As an organization, we are always learning, and will continue the conversation. We cannot stay silent. Our children and families deserve better.
Updates & Action Items
NWCT has heard the request for organizations to provide specifics on how they are responding to the current crisis. A reverse-chronological list of updates, statements, and actions we’ve taken since June 1, 2020 can be found below:
- Released our DEI and anti-racist short-term plan
- Scheduled mandatory anti-bias training for staff (occurring August 2020).
- Sharing staff social justice actions on social media in an effort to encourage our community to get involved.
- Statement from Artistic Director Sarah Jane Hardy about producing Seussical, following discussions with the cast, creative team, and staff.
- The cast and creative team involved in Seussical Online engaged in a dialogue about Dr. Seuss’ racist political cartoons and research that discovered racist undertones in his children books. They were given the chance to provide direct input in how and if we move forward with the show.
- Opened up our free parking lot to anyone participating in the protest for drop-off, pick-up or parking.
- Gathered supplies — bottled water, snacks, basic medical supplies, and masks — to donate to Shaking The Tree Theatre (who have opened their doors to protesters to use the restroom, charge their phone, and refuel) and Don’t Shoot Portland. If you would like to contribute, supplies can be dropped off at the theater on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10am – 2pm. Please use the NW 19th Ave. door.
- Held an open staff meeting to share individual responses, ask questions, and brainstorm immediate and long-term actions we can take as an organization. Items discussed include:
- Acknowledgment of the power that we hold as a theater in the Portland community.
- Consideration of how we can better use our hiring practices and financial resources to uplift Black artists, technicians, administrators, and stories.
- Started exploring how to make NWCT programming, especially Theater School, more accessible to the Black community. NWCT has never turned a child away for lack of funds, but acknowledges that there are structural barriers beyond finances that may prevent families from accessing our programs.
- Considered ways in which we can better include communities of color as audience members, and further welcome members of our Black community into the NWCT family.
- Invitation for staff to privately make suggestions and statements to leadership.
- Commitment to holding regular group discussions.
- Dedicated our social media platforms to amplifying voices and businesses in the Black community, specifically resources that support children and families.
- Statement from Northwest Children’s Theater
Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism
Resources to help start and continue the conversation
Children are constantly curious about the world around them. Some conversations (like saying “please”) are easy, while others (like understanding racism) are much harder. Fortunately, the number of resources to help kids (and adults!) understand these topics have skyrocketed in recent years.
At Northwest Children’s Theater, we believe racial literacy is essential for the healthy development of our youth and for our community. Below are some resources geared toward kids, teens, parents, and caregivers, from local and national experts.
Book Lists for Kids
- Books to help children understand race, anti-racism and protest from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
- A list of anti-racist books for kids from Powell’s Bookstore
- Available e-books to borrow from the Multnomah County Library
- Books celebrating diversity from Colorful Pages
Articles & Resources for Parents
- K-8 activities and lesson plans for teachers, parents, and caregivers from Colorful Pages
- A list of articles and advice from experts, organized by the Center for Racial Justice in Education
- An assortment of educational resources and articles from Teaching Tolerance
- Talking race with young children from NPR
How to Get Involved as a Family
- Many neighborhoods are organizing family-friendly Black Lives Matter protests, marches, and rallies. We will post these opportunities on social media — please let us know if there are any we’ve missed!
- Participate in Don’t Shoot Portland’s Children’s Art & Social Justice Council
- Support local organizations working to improve the lives of BIPOC children and families, like Brown Girl Rise, Kairos PDX, Black Parent Initiative and BEAM Village
- Support Black-owned restaurants and businesses
Local Organizations Working for Change
These are just a few organizations in our community leading the charge toward social justice. We urge you to show your support.
Momentum Alliance, youth-led social justice
Don’t Shoot Portland, community outreach and advocacy
Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs, serving the Black community in Oregon
Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, breaking down systemic barriers