In this second month of self-evaluation, the WCPA continues to reflect and reevaluate how we work. We believe this is a crucial step to develop an ongoing framework to promote and incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in our membership and activities. So far, the board has taken the following actions:
ACTION: Deepening understanding of unconscious bias through training, some of which has already occurred or will have happened before July 1:
- Five board members participated in Boston University’s National Anti-Racist Book Festival on April 2.
- The board will contract a local Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist to conduct additional training in June for members about unconscious bias, sensitivity, and social identity.
- Four board members attended the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s May 27 “Igniting Equity” program. Valerie Zolezzi-Wyndham of Worcester-based Promoting Good spoke at the event.
The program focused on how organizations can successfully reach their diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging goals when committing to a multistep process.
ACTION: The board voted to replace the VP for Programming role with a programming committee composed of three board members and two at-large community members. The committee will send out a call to interested community members to submit their names for service on the committee.
The programming committee’s first task will be to develop processes and guides for how the WCPA will develop its programming, including a fee scale for performing poets. Additionally, the programming committee will establish guidelines for how programming originating outside the WCPA can receive supporting funds.
ACTION: The board voted to create a five-member Diversity Advisory Group. It will include representatives from underserved communities who will advise the board on concrete steps which will enable poetry to thrive within their communities.
Nominations to serve on the Diversity Advisory Group should be sent to Rodger Martin, President, by July 15, 2021, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Diversity Advisory Group will meet with the WCPA board at least twice each year. They will provide recommendations on activities and engagements the WCPA could make with underserved communities.
ACTION: The Worcester Review, the print journal of the WCPA, will institute the following changes:
- Offer free submissions (through Submittable or via email if necessary) for BIPOC writers.
- Offer a free submissions option for those writers for whom the fee poses a barrier to submitting (recognizing that economic inequity disproportionately impacts BIPOC, disabled, immigrant, and LGBTQI+ communities).
- Ask contributors to wait one year from the publication of their issue before submitting again to increase our ability to hear from and feature new voices.
- Add an explicit statement to the submissions portal and website emphasizing our support and welcome for marginalized communities.
ACTION: The board will begin ongoing outreach to other non-profit organizations representing the many cultural voices of central Massachusetts to educate the WCPA about their missions. A goal of these connections will be to better fostering relationships between groups.
Identified organizations include, but are not limited to the following:
- African Community Education
- Guardians of Tradition / Guardianes de Tradición
- LGBT Asylum Task Force at Hadwen Park Church
- Refugee Artists of Worcester
- Southeast Asian Coalition
- Worcester Black History Project
The board of the WCPA is committed to continuing this crucial work to do better in engaging, including, promoting, and amplifying the voices of all members of our diverse community.
We expect to resume limited WCPA-organized programming in July. Our support for community-organized events will also continue. We will provide another update in mid-August 2021.