On September 11, 2020, OutFront Minnesota released A Letter to Our Community on Accountability and Our Future as an Anti-Racist Queer Organization on our social media pages, website and to our email list. This letter was a response to the demands of our community members that we 1) explicitly address the ways in which we have upheld white supremacy both internally and externally, 2) condemn those actions, 3) establish and communicate a plan to prevent those actions from happening again.
In that letter, we also committed to continuous communication about our promises, plans, and progress that we have made towards becoming the organization that our community, particularly Queer and/or Trans Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color in our community, deserve from OutFront. We want to be truly accessible to and built for members of our QTBIPOC community.
We write this letter to continue our series of communication and with the intention of following up on the promises that we made in our previous letter. While we are far from the end of our growth, below are the five actions that we committed to in our previous letter and the progress that we have made so far in completing these goals:
1. Working With an Anti-Racist Consultant: to audit our internal policies to remove barriers which limit our ability to achieve a more equitable organization. This audit would help us understand the barriers that limit our ability to being a more equitable organization. We know this change doesn't happen overnight. We are committing to working with this consultant for over a year and will work with a consultant to keep this transformative work at the center of our work.
- Our search for an anti-racist consultant began in September 2020 and has been narrowed down to a potential candidate. As these details are being finalized, we will be able to share more specific information about this consultant and their work in our next letter.
2. Develop Opportunities for Feedback: Developing a plan to have regular and repeated opportunities for engagement, feedback, and/or accountability with community members to ensure OutFront is a community centered organization.
- Minnesota is our state, and our LGBTQ+ community that is impacted everyday should be leading this work. Being held accountable is a major factor in working towards liberation for all LGBTQ+ Minnesotans. The voices and contributions of community members who have held us accountable are essential to the work of us transforming the way we operate and healing the harm that we have caused. That said, we want to create various avenues to receive continued feedback from members of our community. One of the new ways that we will begin collecting feedback is by hosting Community Office Hours beginning in January 2021. These will be held monthly, centered around various community concerns hosted by different staff members each time. We hope that these spaces will be utilized for the community to ask questions, provide feedback and directly hold us accountable. The calendar and registration for Community Office Hours will be sent out in December 2020. We will also be working on other opportunities for feedback that we will continue to update our community on in the future.
3. Training staff and board on racial equity, power, privilege and intersectionality:
- We know that this work must happen both internally and externally. We want to make sure that the internal work that we are doing is holistic and addresses the harm that we have caused in various marginalized communities, particularly Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, trans folks, folks with disabilities, people who are unhoused, and young people and our elderly community members. In order to address, rectify and prevent this harm, we will be working with the aforementioned anti-racist consultant.
- We have also created a Staff Development Team that is dedicated to finding external trainings and opportunities for staff, interns and leaders to participate in that center and advocate for those communities with a focus on accessibility and accountability.
4. Restructuring how OutFront operates to address white supremacy so that we can truly be an anti-racist queer organization:
- The Union Process: Negotiations
- We are in the final stages of negotiating our union contract between union staff and management. We are hopefully on track to finish the negotiation process by the beginning of 2021, and are extremely excited to share more about that once it is signed!
- Throughout our negotiations process, we have worked to advocate for equitable policies that center our BIPOC staff’s needs.
- Bi-weekly meetings with all staff to discuss internal restructuring moving forward to hold a sustainably anti-racist organization.
- Learning & Unlearning Series:
- We are beginning an all staff discussion series beginning with reading My Grandmother’s Hands by author Resmaa Menakem. We chose to read this first in order to explicitly discuss how white supremacy traumatizes our bodies intergenerationally, and how to work towards healing our bodies based on our unique experiences to move more authentically in the world and begin to heal our community.
5. Transparently corresponding with our community about the steps we are taking to repair the harm that we have done internally and externally:
- We will continue to publish community letters with direct updates to commitments made in previous letters (such as this one).
- Staff and Board members will write blog posts to bring a personal perspective to the work OutFront is doing and prioritizing in this time in order to more transparently engage with the community.
- We have intentionally endorsed candidates that do not take money from the police, something that we believe truly connects to Outfront’s Mission and Vision. For a list of the candidates we endorsed, click here.
As we continue in our accountability and transformation process, we want to assure our community members that we will continue to communicate with you about where we are at and what we are doing to change. We look forward to having more platforms in the very near future to gain more community feedback about our work. Until those new platforms are released, however, we welcome any and all feedback by replying to this email.
Thank you for your commitment to and patience with OutFront Minnesota and our work as staff as we re-envision and commit ourselves so that OutFront truly fulfills its mission. We look forward to continuing our fight for liberation for all LGBTQ+ people in the state of Minnesota together.
Bethany Bobo (she/her), Digital Organizer
Ophir Gilad (they/she), Youth Advocate
Letter Writing Committee:
Audra Cowin (she/they), Anti-Violence Program Director
Dan Buck (he/they), School Equity Coordinator
Monica Meyer (she/any), Executive Director
Alexis Tolbert (she/her), Policy & Organizing Coordinator
Alyssa Olson (she/they), Community Access Specialist
Angela Tona (she/her), Policy & Organizing Coordinator
Ashley Harp (they/she), Anti-Violence Associate Director
James Darville (he/him), Policy & Organizing Coordinator
Sami Heller (she/her), Development & Communications Associate
Skye Vang (they/them), Trans Organizing Coordinator