A Statement from Grantmakers in the Arts on the Killing of George Floyd and the Ongoing Terror of Structural Racism

We at Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) must express our grief at the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black people who have died in similarly unjust circumstances of police violence or at the hands of white supremacy.

The murder of George Floyd is a literal example of the reason that GIA advocates for racial equity in arts funding – to support the expression of the full humanity of Black people who have been dehumanized, in ways both subtle and direct, by our public and private institutions throughout our country’s history and still to this day.

As we have seen in the past few days, spreading from Minneapolis to Houston to Philadelphia to nearly all 50 states, folks have gathered in protest, a form of public performance of pain and outrage. Our nation’s population is expressing pain and outrage at a public sector that under-invests in and ignores their health and safety in concert with a private sector that is willing to endanger their health and safety for the sake of profit. This dynamic has been laid bare by the racialized impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the murders of Black people that have only been addressed by the authorities after protests.

The national de-valuing of the lives of Black people is further laid bare when we express greater outrage over a protestor taking an inanimate object than we do over the murder of a person of color.

Creativity and cultural expression by people of color has long explored different ways of truth-telling and valuing each other, our environment, our health, our safety, and our humanity, whether it is Mel Chin’s bringing attention to how corporate industries poison the water and soil in low-income communities of color, Guadalupe Maravilla’s organizing of mutual aid for low-income residents during the coronavirus pandemic, or Dread Scott’s reenactment of a slave rebellion, to name a few. Artists and activists alike who center cultural and narrative shift create opportunity for us all to envision another, perhaps just, future and the steps we must all take to build it.

Eddie Torres, GIA president & CEO, reminded us of a time when he asked an activist where they felt it most important for advocacy and activism to take place. She said, “The place where you are.” Supporting the creativity and cultural expression of Black people and African, Latinx, Arab, Asian, Native American (ALAANA) communities is only one of many elements – but an essential element – of racial equity toward the goal of racial justice in our nation.

Our commitment to action and advocacy is clear. We stand beside Black communities as they demand justice and action. As this movement grows, we call upon our community and the grantmaking sector as a whole to invest in movements led by Black communities and community-identified/led solutions that will support healing, restitution, and a just future.

We call upon the wisdom of Dr. Maya Angelou today as a guide for directing our actions in response to our emotions, “So, use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”

To our community, our peers, our field – we will keep talking it – Black Lives Matter.