“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced.” ~ James Baldwin
The tragic murder of George Floyd, yet another unjustified death of a black man to police brutality, has set off an uprising in this country that has not been seen since my days of 1960’s activism. It is critical for people to speak out through rallies, protests, and vigils because this is what calls attention to a situation that is intolerable and must end, the taking of unarmed African American lives. As human beings we need to express our outrage, pain and anger and collectively, find a way to take these emotions and channel them to fight the oppression that leads to this lack of human compassion.
What needs to be addressed is multifold. It is not just the issue of police brutality, but the underlying systemic racism that pervades every aspect of our society and daily life. It is up to all of us to understand history, educate ourselves, and take action to make changes in our own lives and our workplaces to undo the institutional racism that has plagued our country since its early days of colonization and slavery.
MATV, Malden’s Media Center (soon to be UMA, Urban Media Arts) exists to enable true democracy where every individual is empowered to speak and express themselves through media in a supportive and inclusive community. We celebrate diversity, welcome dialogue and nurture free expression. Our mission has always been based on giving people a voice, particularly those whose voices have been underrepresented.
MATV/UMA is here to connect community and promote civic engagement. We are a place where people of all backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to learn together, work together, collaborate, share their cultures and tell their stories. Over our 31-year history, we see that our center provides the opportunity for unexpected friendships to be made and where real, meaningful dialogue can happen. These two things are some of the most powerful ways through which positive social change happens.
During these troubling times, our staff has been thinking and talking about these issues through email, phone calls and a virtual Zoom staff meeting. We are a diverse staff that represents different races, cultures, ages and life experiences. Sharing our personal stories, thoughts, and reflections has helped underscore the impact of dialog and “uncomfortable conversations.” As Executive Director of MATV/UMA, I am committed to the ongoing education of our staff on issues of racial and cultural sensitivity, as well as extending that education outward to the community through use of our media channels and programming.
As our nation calls for an end to longstanding injustices, let this community know that UMA is here to stand with those who have lost loved ones, who seek change but feel powerless to right so many wrongs and in the process, bring a new and better society to fruition. We are here to provide the tools for taking peaceful action, to let all voices be heard, and to enable the kind of dialogue that brings forth understanding, compassion, empathy, and justice.
Over the next few weeks, our staff and Board will be discussing concrete actions we can take to identify and address issues of systemic racism that exist in our organization and our community. We will keep you posted and we will take action.
Please connect with our evolving community media arts center. Get involved, learn, share, create, discuss, and make your voice heard.
In solidarity with Black Lives Matter,
MATV, Malden’s Media Center
Soon to be UMA, Urban Media Arts