Tag Archives: Racial Equity

Teen Summer Musical Returns With a Show About an Off-Brand Band and Racial Equity

by Susan Fried

The Teen Summer Musical is an institution in Seattle. For many years Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center and Teen Summer Musical director Isiah Anderson worked with dozens of young people over eight to 10 weeks every summer to create a world class, large-scale musical production. In 2019, performances of Uncle Willy’s Chocolate Factory played to full houses at Benaroya Hall and included 60 young people performing amazing choreography and singing incredible original music. In 2020, there was no Teen Musical. Like most annual events it was canceled due to COVID-19.  

Isiah Anderson, the director of the Teen Summer Musical “Story of an Off-Brand Band,“ rehearses at the Acts on Stage Theatre on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. (Photo: Susan Fried)

The Teen Summer Musical has returned for 2021, though in an abbreviated form. This year’s production is made possible by Acts On Stage, The Voices Project, the Associated Recreation Council, and Seattle Parks and Recreation. Fifteen young people between 12 and 18 years old will be dancing and singing in an original musical Story of an Off-Brand Band written by Michelle Lang-Raymond and adapted and directed by Isiah Anderson, with original music by Lang-Raymond and musical director Cedric Thomas. About half of the cast and many of the staff have either performed in or were a part of the crew in past Teen Musical productions. By the first performance of this year’s musical, the cast and crew will have put in 5 weeks of hard work, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, at the Acts on Stage Theatre space in White Center, co-founded by Michelle Lang-Raymond and Isiah Anderson.  

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Weekend Long Reads: The Cost of ‘Compassion’

by Kevin Schofield

Two “long read” documents came through my inbox in the past week that, upon reflection, are likely to set the tone for a good chunk of our political conversation over the next few months as we head into the primary and general elections here in Seattle.

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Community Health Centers Work to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity

by Sally James

The State of Washington released a report on  Feb. 10 showing that white people are getting a higher proportion of the limited amount of COVID-19 vaccines than other races and ethnicities in the state.

For Trang Tu, a community activist who cares for her elderly mother — who has dementia and needs 24-hour care — getting a vaccine presented numerous hurdles. Tu eventually got a last-minute tip from a mass vaccination site in Snohomish county, a long drive from her home south of Rainier Beach, and her mother is now vaccinated. “It’s not just limited supply of vaccines itself,” Tu said. “Access is not equal. It favors people who have time, an internet connection, transportation, and a certain language.”

Tu’s mother was able to overcome systemic barriers because, Tu says, “I have some privilege: I have a computer, I have a car, I can do advocacy.” Many other BIPOC people aren’t as fortunate.

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Statewide Pandemic Relief Fund Sets $30M Goal for Vaccine Equity

by Ben Adlin

A statewide partnership of public officials and private groups on Monday, Feb. 15, announced plans to put $30 million toward a new equity initiative intended to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black, Brown, Indigeneous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and other groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“The goal on this initiative is to raise $15 million to match government dollars around vaccine outreach and education,” said Lilliane Ballesteros, executive director of the Latino Community Fund of Washington. “Now is the time to mobilize our collective resources quickly to those in need.”

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King County Equity Now Announces Community-Based Research Team

by Elizabeth Turnbull

On Monday, the King County Equity Now (KCEN) Coalition unveiled the Black Brilliance Project, a Black-led, community-based research team set to investigate health, public safety and racial equity solutions, with the goal of providing direction and authority on how City funds should be applied toward meeting these needs in 2021. 

The Black Brilliance Project’s first 50 members were on-boarded last week, and the project will ultimately consist of over 100 paid research positions, occupied by various members of the city’s Black community, some of whom spoke at a press conference on Monday. 

Overall, the project will survey the needs of the Black community and provide a potential avenue for community members to be involved in budgeting decisions as an alternative to City-formed task forces that usually decide how money for the Black community is allocated. 

“When we say community voice we don’t mean some task force that is cherry-picked by white wealthy people who already have access to political power,” said KCEN research director Shaun Glaze during a press conference Monday. “Instead of having pre-set priorities, instead of having hand-selected task forces, we are pushing for a community voice and community power to be at the center.”

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How a Weed Store Became a Symbol of Seattle Gentrification

by Elizabeth Turnbull

Since the Seattle protests began in late May, demonstrators have gathered in front of various police precincts and city buildings to protest police brutality and systemic anti-Black racism. Two protests this summer, including one held two weeks ago, have shifted to focus on the issue of gentrification in general, and on one pot shop in particular: Uncle Ike’s. 

On the evening of Aug. 7, a rally organized by the Engage Team, a group of young activists who posted their first rally in July of this year, gathered in front of the pot shop’s newly-opened location on East Olive Way, and marched to the original Uncle Ike’s storefront on 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, in the Central District (CD), calling for a boycott of Uncle Ike’s weed shops and a halt to predatory development.

“The main goal is to pretty much expose gentrification, expose what’s going on and how it’s working in Seattle,” said Peyday, one of the organizers with the Engage Team. “We want to expose the little details of racism that people don’t really understand, and so now we’re trying to expose gentrification as well.”

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Artist Distrust: Open Letter to Artist Trust Demands Accountability for Sudden Dismissal of Majority POC Jury

by Mark Van Streefkerk

On July 6, a POC-led group of over 50 community members published An Open Letter to Artist Trust, a nonprofit arts organization that provides funding and resources for artists in Washington. Each year, Artist Trust offers annual Fellowship Awards of $10,000 to eight artists, and two $25,000 Artist Innovator Awards, but this year the longstanding organization abruptly cancelled the Fellowship Awards without any community consultation. The cancellation included a unilateral dismissal of a majority Women of Color jury panel and rejection of that panel’s selected award nominees. The open letter demands accountability for these actions and calls to center Black and Indigenous leaders and artists within the mostly white Artist Trust leadership. Those in agreement with the letter’s demands are able to endorse it by electronically signing their name or the name of the organization they represent. Since the open letter was published, half a dozen women have also come forward calling out the sexism, vulgarity, and rape culture perpetuated by Program Director Brian McGuigan, behavior they say is ignored and protected at Artist Trust. 

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Affirmative Action Returning to Washington Ballots

Initiative 1000 seeks to reverse the impact Initiative 200 had in the 1990s.

by Sharayah Lane

As Carl Livingston stood behind the curtain, he took deep breaths, prayed and worked (in vain) to calm his nerves. In a few moments he, a Black man, would be going out in front of hundreds to debate a white man on the merits of Affirmative Action in the state of Washington.

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