On October 29th and 30th, representatives of Button Poetry met with representatives of TruArtSpeaks at Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe in Saint Paul for a racial equity/social justice analysis and training moderated by Gabriella Anais Deal-Márquez of Voices for Racial Justice.
Over the course of the two-day meeting, we discussed details and addressed lingering questions in regards to last year’s prospective Button Educational Initiative and the events surrounding it, and their impact on individuals and communities in the Twin Cities. We also examined racial equity and social justice, and how they can be practiced and committed to both individually and organizationally, as well as the historical and present impact of oppressive systems and white supremacy. Many productive and valuable conversations occurred, and the meeting ended on a positive and encouraging note.
We at Button are committed to navigating our space in the Twin Cities poetry communities responsibly, equitably, and transparently. We would like to recognize TruArtSpeaks’ ongoing and invaluable work in the Twin Cities, and extend our thanks and gratitude to their organization for coordinating this training and this dialogue. We would also like to thank Gabriella for facilitating. Any questions from members of the community for Button Poetry in regards to this meeting, last year’s proposed initiative, or surrounding issues can be addressed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to respond thoroughly and promptly.
On Sunday, October 26th, Button attended a Twin Cities community meeting organized by TruArtSpeaks and hosted by Juxtaposition Arts, addressing our organization’s recent actions in the Twin Cities, specifically our announcement of a prospective Educational Initiative.
Button would like to publicly recognize the historical and social implications of our actions, as they reflect a larger narrative of organizational oppressive practices. We are incredibly thankful for the people who put this meeting together, and all the community members who attended and shared their questions and perspectives. It was an educational and humbling experience. Button would like to once again apologize for the harm and hurt that our actions have caused members of the Twin Cities spoken word community, and the way in which our proposed Initiative supported a culture of privilege and injustice.
During and after the meeting, we had a number of constructive conversations with members of the community about positive steps moving forward. As suggested by TruArtSpeaks, Button is committed to undergoing a racial equity analysis and social justice training, and continuing to better educate the members of the Button team. Additionally, we are taking steps towards better communication within the organization, so that we can avoid these kinds of failures. Personally, I took a number of actions in haste and without consulting other members of the organization, and I am dedicated to correcting that mistake in the future.
As the Director, I am excited to continue this positive and respectful growth in our actions and engagement with the community. As an additional and specific action to create more possibility for dialogue and transparency, I will be holding regular, open hours at the Button office in the coming months, for anyone who would like to voice their comments or concerns or otherwise engage in dialogue with Button and myself. The first opportunity will be December 5th from 6-8pm at Button’s office at 1219 Marquette Suite 100 Minneapolis, MN 55403. Please stay tuned for additional information and times.