We at the iO Theater are ashamed and disgusted at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, and the long, awful legacy of black death without justice in this country. The past week has been a painful reminder for so many of our citizens that there is anti-racist work to be done on every level of society, especially by white America.
Even amidst a global pandemic, black Americans suffer disproportionately. This is yet another symptom of a centuries-long problem that can no longer be ignored or shoved into a corner. It is no longer enough to acknowledge racism – we must be actively anti-racist. We must seek out racism and confront it, even, and especially, when it’s difficult and uncomfortable.
We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters calling for change. Many members of our staff and our performers have been out on the streets marching in protest. More than anything, we are grateful and humbled by the black activists that have, for years, put themselves in harm’s way to show us that change is needed, and that action must be taken.
We are proud of the protesters both at home and overseas. The world knows America needs change, yet our leadership lacks the courage. A true leader would call for the arrest of the police officers who assisted the murder of George Floyd. A true leader would understand that sending in the military to incapacitate, shoot, and arrest justice-seeking protesters will only incite more violence. A true leader would answer the call for justice and seek peace. A true leader would be against racism.
This issue affects the iO Theater as well. We know we can and must do more to promote the black voices in our community, and to remove the institutional barriers that stand in their way. We feel saddened that the black performers, teachers, students, and staff at iO have to deal with this violent reality every day. We feel love and genuine admiration for our black community members and all of the people of color who participate, perform, teach, and work at our theater. Improv comedy is a community art form, and black voices, and the voices of people of color, are an underrepresented part of that community. This is an issue we have to be constantly working to solve.
We stand in solidarity with this movement; to acknowledge and decry the white privilege inherent in the nation, our city, and our theater. We promise to continue to address and dismantle institutionalized obstacles, lay out specific plans for addressing black disenfranchisement in our theater, and open the conversation with our performers of color. Black Lives Matter. We must listen, and the brutal attacks against black men and women must end.
Here are some of the resources we found helpful that we wanted to share:
Justice for George Floyd (petitions & calls): https://www.
Justice for Breonna Taylor (petitions) : https://action.
A number of other petition links: https://blacklivesmatters.
Calls & Texts you can make/send: https://blacklivesmatters.
Register to Vote: https://vote.gov/
Have conversations with family & friends: https://boldconversations.org/
Black Lives Matter Chicago: https://www.
The Chicago Alliance Against Racial & Political Oppression: https://www.caarpr.org/
Chicago Community Bond Fund: https://chicagobond.org/
Chris Redd’s Protester Covid-19 GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/
Campaign Zero: https://www.joincampaignzero.
The Marshall Project: https://www.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund: https://www.naacpldf.org
Communities United Against Police Brutality: https://www.cuapb.org
Anti-Racism for Beginners: https://docs.google.com/
Anti-Racism Resource Doc: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES
List of Relevant Articles: https://docs.google.com/
Community Policing Toolkit from the Obama Foundation: https://www.obama.org/wp-
Showing Up for Racial Justice Resources: https://www.
Support Black Businesses & Black Art:
Support Black Art: https://www.instagram.com/
Resources to Connect to Black-Owned Businesses: https://www.timeout.com/