by Andrew Engelson
Responding to a strike and campaign by more than 200 writers of color and members of the community, the Seattle nonprofit writing center Hugo House announced on Friday that its Executive Director Tree Swenson is stepping down. The campaign began in July of 2020 in response to what the Writers of Color Alliance (WOCA) says is a long term, persistent pattern of structural and systemic racism, tokenism, performative statements, lack of equity in pay, and a failure to provide a welcoming space to all races. Leaders of the strike by more than 180 writing teachers at Hugo House welcomed the departure of Swenson and the announcement that the organization’s development director position would be reopened to a competitive hiring process.
Continue reading Hugo House Director Departs, but Writers of Color Alliance Says Demands Unmet
by Luna Reyna, contributing columnist
In June 2020, Hugo House, a Seattle nonprofit writing center, posted a brief message via email and on their website in an attempt to condemn racism and show solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Below the statement, Hugo House promoted a short list of poems and essays by Black writers. But by July, over 200 writers of Color and allies had signed an open letter addressing the performative nature of the statement and the organization’s lack of real investment, advocacy, and endorsement of local Black writers and communities.
“Hugo House’s recent email professing solidarity with the Black community rings hollow,” the letter reads. “The new civil rights movement makes clear that breaking down systemic and structural racism is all of our work, and we demand that Hugo House move concretely and transparently to invest its resources and make that change happen.”
Continue reading OPINION: Hugo House’s Passive Response to Racism Prompts Writers to Address the Violence of the Past