Tag Archives: Social Justice

A Backstage Look at Intiman’s Technical Theatre and Social Justice AA Degree at Seattle Central College

by Beverly Aarons

Fury-fueled crowds of chanting protestors, clever and insightful picket signs, and collective action to transform or eradicate unjust laws and cultural practices — this is how many see social justice. But when Intiman Theatre began to look for a new home and contemplated how they could advance their mission, they imagined how social justice could be advanced by backstage storytellers — costume designers, lighting designers, sound riggers, set builders, and other technical theatre artists. The answer was a two-year Associate of Arts degree in Technical Theatre for Social Justice (AA-TTSJ) and a partnership with Seattle Central College (SCC). But what does that mean, exactly? Who can participate? And what does social justice in technical theatre really look like? During our telephone interview, Intiman’s Educational Director, Dr. M. Crystal Yingling, gave a sneak peek into the program.

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Sustainable Seattle to Host Virtual Leadership Awards Event to Celebrate and Connect Local Sustainability Experts

by Jack Russillo

They’re calling it “Campfire Stories,” and the event will shed light on some of Seattle’s most innovative and ambitious leaders working toward a sustainable and equitable future.

On Tuesday December 8 at 6 p.m. Sustainable Seattle (S2) will host its eleventh Sustainability Leadership Awards, where it will recognize and celebrate the efforts of local experts, organizers, and organizations that have produced exceptional sustainability work in the past year. This year, the free event will take place online. Virtual doors will open at 5:45 p.m. and the event will commence shortly after.

Since 1991, S2 has worked to guide initiatives, create events, assemble a diverse range of community members, and spread awareness from around the Seattle area to activate a world that is safe, accessible, and enduring for all.

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Picket Reiterates Need for Racial Equity in King County Workplaces

by Elizabeth Turnbull

On Tuesday, a small group of King County workers picketed outside of the county’s Chinook Building on 5th Avenue, in order to remind King County Executive Dow Constantine that racism is a public health crisis and to protest King County’s inaction on fighting racism and discrimination in King County workplaces. 

The event was not the first time that the Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) sponsored a picket — the group staged a picket and rally in front of the county executive’s downtown office earlier this summer to insist Constantine listen to their repeated demands: that he prevent racist threats and harassment at King County worksites, provide restitution for workers who have filed complaints of racism with no satisfactory resolution, and end budget cuts and lay-offs, among other demands.

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I Became a Judge Because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

by Bobbe Bridge (former Washington Supreme Court Justice)

As I write, millions — maybe billions — of words have been dedicated in print and orally to the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the law professor; the lawyer for the ACLU winning landmark rulings at the United States Supreme Court; the federal District Court Judge; the Supreme Court Justice; the Notorious RBG. She became an iconic figure in her later years, an idol in a black robe and lace collars — collars that were carefully selected (like her own words) to signal her meaning.

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First Black Woman Makes Washington’s Supreme Court Most Diverse Ever

by Charlene Angeles

“How dark is the color of its skin,
As that will define its struggles within
Is it a boy or is it a girl is asked, as if to define its life’s task
Will it stay or will it go, the answer its parents needs to know
From the day that it was born, its very essence society scorned
From birth society coded its future to do
It hacked the code and redirected its future to zoom
Silent it could never be, because it ladies and gentlemen, is me.”

—Justice Grace Helen Whitener, “Claiming Your Identity by Understanding Your Self-Worth.” TEDxPortofSpain.

In mid-April, with a global pandemic raging, the state of Washington quietly made history. Without much fanfare, Governor Jay Inslee appointed Grace Helen Whitener to the state supreme court — and by doing so, made Washington’s highest court likely the most diverse the United States has ever seen. 

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Barbara Earl Thomas Traverses the Geography of Innocence

by Beverly Aarons

Each human being is a vast planet filled with uncharted territory. The darkness, the unseen, and the mystery of each of us can intrigue and terrify or even invoke violence, especially if we are living in bodies racialized as Black and even if we are just children. And it’s through this topography that Seattle-based artist Barbara Earl Thomas guides us in “The Geography of Innocence,” (Seattle Art Museum — November 14, 2020–June 13, 2021). The Geography of Innocence is a room-scale exhibit that explores “the colors we’ve assigned to sin … and our preconceived notions of innocence and guilt, assigned in shades of light and dark.” The exhibit will feature cut paper portraits of Black children, capturing their tenderness and vulnerability. 

“So when people step into the room, they’ll just be in the Barbara environment,” Thomas said during our telephone interview. “… You are going to be relocated in the geography of my idea.” 

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Rest, Healing, Celebration, Accountability — Repeat: Persistent Resistance

by Alex Garland

In these unprecedented times, change that once seemed improbable now appears inevitable to many in Seattle’s activist community who have spent years fighting for systemic and structural transformation. As protests and an expanding awareness of racial injustices endure across the nation, several of them find themselves hopeful of finally leaving behind a status quo that dehumanized and marginalized communities of color, LGBTQIA+ folx, and people with disabilities, to name but a few.

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Know Your Role

by Jasmine M. Pulido

I should be out there.

But I can’t.

When I read about protests in the 1960s in my history class, I always imagined that I would’ve been out there if I had been alive then. My values were clear, and I would fight for them alongside my peers. Chained to something, chanting loudly or getting arrested. No hesitation, no question, no fear.

I didn’t think that there would be a moment 60 years later, when we would need to fight for these same rights. Again. Nor did I think it would happen in the middle of a pandemic with two young kids and an immunocompromised husband. As a result, we’ve been in pretty intense quarantine and will continue to be until the end of Phase 4.

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POETRY: The streets are crying.

by Cecilia Erin Walsh 

daily burials without memorial. selective testing. 
arrogance and stupidity passing for leadership.
seclusion. isolation. hunger. masks on every face. 
furtive movements across the city. essential travel only. 
certain scarcity. overcrowded hospitals. 
layoffs. domestic violence and suicide rise. 
mental health crisis phone lines ring incessantly. 

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OPINION: The Immigration Smokescreen

by Rich Stolz

We are living in an unprecedented crisis. We know this moment calls on all of us to go all in for all of us so that we can all be safe and healthy. And we also know that COVID-19 is harming black and brown communities, including immigrants, at higher rates, due to deep underlying inequities in our society. 

An unprecedented crisis calls for competent leadership, especially in the White House. Unfortunately, that’s something we don’t have. A confusing and confused response to the pandemic has made the crisis worse, and the president is agitating for states to reopen their economies in a manner that contradicts his own talking points. 

Enter the immigration ban.

Anyone who uses this health crisis to divide Americans and scapegoat immigrants undermines everything we need to do to keep each other safe in the face of this pandemic. Politicians like Donald Trump are blowing a smokescreen to divert attention from their own failures by whipping up resentment and fear of immigrants, scapegoating our communities with xenophobic attacks. Unfortunately, these policies have real consequences.

The new ‘immigration ban’ signed by the president last week restricts immigrant visas and green cards to folks abroad who wish to immigrate to the U.S. The ban is initially set for 60 days, and it may be extended. This ban on legal immigration follows on the administration’s decision to halt refugee resettlement earlier in the crisis. And it follows on three years of policy changes that have eviscerated our asylum system.

There are some exceptions to the ban, including spouses and children of U.S. Citizens, physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals and wealthy immigrant investors. But that’s no solace for the tens of thousands U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are separated from their loved ones overseas and must now put their plans to reunite their families on hold.

The administration’s stated reason for the ban is to reduce strain to the healthcare market, protect the American worker, and to help folks retain their jobs, especially African Americans, the disabled, and lower income workers at the margins. But we know that’s a false narrative.

Immigration hardliners, nativists and xenophobes are using this crisis to enact policies they’ve sought to implement for years, and the president is seeking to shore up support in his nativist base to counter his falling poll numbers. Once again, Trump is attempting to divide black and brown voters and voters on the margin against immigrants by recycling age-old stereotypes about immigrants stealing jobs. But that’s not true, and jobs are not a zero-sum game. Adding new residents to our country creates jobs, and economic models show that time and again. The rampant inequality that Trump’s policies are fueling is what’s keeping communities down. 

The very people that Trump is now excluding are the same people serving all of us as “essential workers.” It’s a loaded term. Many of them are immigrant and native-born workers, typically working on an hourly basis or in the fields, in warehouses or in grocery stores. Because they can’t afford not to work, they are risking exposure to COVID-19 in order to minimize the impact of the crisis on those of us who can work from home. These workers are the frontline heroes we need right now, and it’s up to us to make sure we have their back.

Let’s make sure we don’t fall for the smokescreen. This is a time to come together across the differences too often used to divide us. We all need to stay healthy and safe. We all need to call blatantly racist and xenophobic attacks on our communities what they are when we see them. We will need each other to make it through the economic crisis we’re in. And we’ll need to draw on all of us to muster the vision we’ll need to shape a recovery toward a more resilient, more equitable economy.

Rich Stolz has been OneAmerica’s executive director since 2012. Born in Seoul, South Korea, he understands the need to organize, advocate and engage on behalf of immigrants and their families. He has dedicated his career to social justice and immigrant rights and was honored by President Obama as a Cesar Chavez Champion for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rstolz11.

Featured image: Alisdare Hickson (licensed by Creative Commons)