Our current social unrest is a direct reflection of just why the youth are struggling. Dealing with police violence, deportation, racism, sexism, gender discrimination, incarceration, and cruelty is something most young people with whom we work have to live with every day of their lives.
Five years ago AfA was evicted from our office of 10 years because we had a Black Lives Matter sign in our window. Shortly after, we asked our volunteers to collect food and water to deliver to Black Lives Matter supporters at a protest and as a result of getting “too political” we lost a board member and some volunteers. Our annual event in support of LGBTQ+ youth has lost us volunteers, donors and stakeholders, who think we are promoting…well, you know. Sometimes it’s hard to even repeat what people think.
We recently posted our statement in support of the BLM movement and, you guessed it, we lost some support and many people un-Liked our Facebook page and unsubscribed from our newsletter.
Here’s our answer to that:
After a flood destroyed our office, followed by a global pandemic, followed by an international protest against police violence—met with police violence—we are more determined than ever to stand alongside the youth when it comes to issues that deeply affect their lives. Through poetry and art and literal support from their community, they learn to stand—and speak—their truth, own their dreams, and realize their possibilities. We promote their value as powerful human beings who deserve to be heard.
Does this remind you of you?
Art from Ashes has long supported social justice movements, including standing with and for the youth at BLM protests, Indigenous water rights protests, Indigenous People’s day marches, LGBTQIA rights events, and the Women’s March, to name a few. Youth as a whole are often dismissed based on age and circumstance. That experience is exacerbated by discrimination for the more than 60% of youth with whom we have worked who are BIPOC. As part of our mission of social justice through the arts, AfA stands against any abuse—emotional, physical or systemic.
True to our mission to provide young people an opportunity to express themselves and recognize their power through creativity, we have encouraged them to advocate for themselves, while offering opportunity, safety, and physical/emotional support.
We celebrate a diversity in leadership that directly reflects the population we serve, and those of our personnel who are not BIPOC have received ongoing training in diversity, inclusivity, and anti-racism for our entire 17-year history.
Hell yes, we’ve made mistakes in our fumbling attempts to live up to our high standards, and no doubt will continue to do so.
But those mistakes are informed by gentle leadership, humility, and a dedication to contribute to humanity to the very best of our ability.
If you see yourself reflected in any of these traits, and have compassion and a passion for the arts, poetry, and social justice FOR ALL, we welcome you to join us. Here are five ways you can serve with us: