Black Lives Matter: A Message from Our Founder
To our artists, clients, community partners, and supporters –
First of all, Black Lives Matter.
The last few weeks we’ve been living as a nation have been tragic, impassioned, & raw. George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police has provoked this moment precisely because insane & disgusting instances of police killing black people are all too common in our country.
And they always have been. Just that now our iPhones are capturing & disseminating the images of it happening.
I also think about how the lack of real discussion and dialogue around race in this country (really since the Black Civil Rights movement), has emotionally paralyzed us as a nation around the issue of racism and American history. Our ability to engage in discussions around healing, equity, structural racism, & real solutions for a way forward has been handicapped.
That said, this feels like it’s about collectively listening, learning, and being part of the cultural majority that actively participates in conversations that have been avoided for too long.
As an organization built on the values of Equality, Creativity, and Collaboration, our all-encompassing ethos is about the fundamental equality of all human beings. As a student of nonviolent movements and having worked in nonprofits for over a decade, I’ve always described what we do at IPaintMyMind as ‘a social justice project through the vehicle of art.’
The foundation of our mission is to create value through art to fuel a machine of activism, engagement, learning, and community. Since Day 1, we have been focused on geographic, economic, & racial equity, creating models to ensure that our efforts prioritized communities that have been divested, ignored, abused, over-policed, vilified, scapegoated, & demonized.
The bottom line is, we can listen, learn, and do more.
We stand in solidarity with Black Americans who have been most affected by the George Floyd’s murder and other similar acts of heinous racism. As the world wrestles with this moment, IPMM supports and commits to be a part of real actions, training, and dialogues that address structural racism, which is why IPaintMyMind is committing to the following principles & actions:
1. We call for the defunding of police departments with explicit reallocation of those funds for public schools nationwide.
2. IPaintMyMind’s Board of Directors will conduct an annual review of our hiring, on-boarding, and curatorial practices to ensure we are part of the change we seek by intentionally working to extinguish structural racism in the organization. We will partner with outside voices to review and craft updated policies and procedures as well as existing community partners dedicated to this movement.
3. We commit to actively supporting anti-racist efforts of BIPOC organizations by amplifying the voices of black leaders and contributing to those organizations financially.
4. We commit to continue to prioritize minority representation in the building & acquisition of our Permanent Collection, with the goal of representing & speaking to the full diversity of American experience.
5. We commit to continue prioritizing outreach, messaging, and investment in our programs in communities of color and leveraging our ‘Get Art, Give Back’ model for impact in the communities that need it most.
Our black brothers and sisters will not see true equity and justice until the white majority in America lives up to our ethos, confronts our history of enslaving Africans and subjugating them in America for centuries, and commits to a plan of social reconciliation & reinvestment.
IPaintMyMind is anti-racism in every form, and believes in the potential of the American Dream to one day live up to its own lofty ideal.
IPaintMyMind exists because we believe art is a peaceful and transformative vehicle for expression, connection, communication, activism, & understanding. Art is the expression of & a chance to unite in our shared humanity.
We look forward to being part of a future in which the United States of America finally lives up to its promise. Below we have included a list of groups and resources listed on BlackLivesMatterChicago.com/get-involved for anyone in Chicago looking to get involved in supporting this movement.
REAL CHANGE requires OUR COLLECTIVE ACTION.
Stand up & speak out. Black Lives Matter.
Evan La Ruffa
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of IPAINTMYMIND
P.s. Public schools are the lifeblood of an equitable society. We’ll say it now like we’ve said 1000x times – every child in America deserves the same chance to learn, grow, and evolve.
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Info Available at BlackLivesMatterChicago.com/get-involved
Great organizations BLM Chicago works with:
- Ujimaa Medics
- Assata’s Daughters
- We Charge Genocide
- Project Nia
- Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression
- The Let us Breathe Collective
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