“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ― Barack Obama
CWEA has always been a place that supports diversity, equality, tolerance and acceptance of all voices. While often times it’s easier to say that it isn’t our fight or it isn’t our place, change must start somewhere. In our organization, each and every person is valued regardless of race, gender, orientation, disability, social class or otherwise.
To the performers, designers, staff members, spectators, and dreamers of color in the pageantry world: we hear you. You are valued, and we support you. Black Lives Matter in our organization.
The following message was sent to the CWEA Membership on June 1, 2020:
We’ve all watched in horror the events unfolding around the country following the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Like many of you, I’ve struggled all week with how to feel and most importantly how to respond. I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you some of the thoughts which have flooded my mind.
Since I’ve been in the leadership of CWEA, we’ve seen tragedy after tragedy unfold. The pain and anguish we all felt in 2015 after the attack on Mother Emanuel AME, the hurt following the Pulse shootings in 2016, the anger and fear of the countless school shootings that have unfolded over the past several years - it all still lives within each of us. And here we are facing yet another tragedy - another innocent life has been taken without cause and we must again face the worst parts of humanity.
I had a conversation with two of my greatest friends in the world over the weekend - Clayton Parker and Nikki Crawford-Jones. We’ve know each other for over eight years now and we’ve been blessed with a tremendous friendship. We talked about how CWEA brought us all together and has afforded us the opportunity for our relationships to grow without interference of things like racial bias or discrimination. I’d like to think that CWEA has offered many of you the same opportunities to grow and connect with each other. But at some point, we have to acknowledge that the real world is not as kind.
Often times in positions such as mine, you’re faced with decisions on how the organization should respond to these unspeakable events. While the answer seems so simple, it never is that easy. Many feel that organizations such as ours should not advocate on social issues. On the other side, many feel that we should be at the forefront of advocacy. But what’s the right answer? What’s the right path? It’s easy to stay silent - but is the easy way the right path to take?
The more I’ve thought about recent events, the more I’ve come to realize that as leaders in our activity we have a fundamental duty to speak out against injustice. At some point, we all must acknowledge that enough is enough. I think that we all agree that change must come, but how do we bring about that change? These conversations are uncomfortable - but that’s ok! Discomfort is an inevitable part of change.
How can we position CWEA to ensure that students are afforded the same opportunities that we have enjoyed with each other over the years? How can we ensure that each and every performer that comes through our organization is afforded the same opportunities regardless of race, gender, orientation, disability, social class or otherwise? How can we make sure that students know that they are safe in our activity? Where does it start? I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter where it starts - what matters is that it happens.
Let’s be the change we are waiting for - let’s stop accepting the status quo and stand together to say that we are proud and support ALL of our constituents. Let’s be the change the world so desperately seeks. And most importantly of all, let’s start now.