The killings must stop.
Say their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Ahmaud Arbery.
White supremacy has been endemic in law enforcement, insidious across American life, and at the very root of the country’s foundation. The violence, trauma, and destruction it has caused is right in front of our eyes. But even though it might run counter to the documentary ethos, we must acknowledge that this visibility is not enough to stop these vile acts. We must come together to dismantle the system of oppression.
UnionDocs sees hope in the millions of people across the world who are rising up. We stand in solidarity to condemn these acts of police terror, white supremacy, and violence against Black people.
At the same time, we know that racism and white supremacy can corrupt even when our intentions and commitments are in opposition. So in addition to stating our position, and joining the voices of protest, UnionDocs is taking this moment to evaluate how the organization is also implicated in the perpetuation of antiblack violence, settler colonialism, and the oppressions and inequities that intersect with them. We won’t wring our hands in elaborate displays of accountability here, but we do feel that it is useful to publicly acknowledge that fears about the sustainability of the organization have provided an excuse for failing to avoid reproducing the injustices that structure our society.
We are not political organizers or trained activists. We’d like to say more, to be able to narrate the issues and the potential solutions adequately. In the context of this necessary uprising, we are looking to others, who are stronger leaders in this arena. In many ways, what we’re good at—our daily work— feels near impossible right now. We aren’t going to pretend things are normal, or going well. Our attention is demanded elsewhere. Where can our skills, or our bodies be of service?
As long as it feels essential— maybe a week, maybe two, maybe more — UnionDocs will offer our core team flexibility and paid time to support protest, engage in mutual aid, and care for their communities. This is not a time for top-down decision making. Each team member will be able to determine their best contribution to the fight to defend black lives.
So what are we doing better? One immediate action: We’ve long offered discounts and scholarships to our workshops and labs in an effort to make these resources more accessible and more diverse. We have not, however, made this process transparent and or consistant. We are changing that. Going forward we will offer two spots in each workshop and lab to support artists from marginalized communities.
This is one small, initial step. We will keep looking at the resources we have and how they can be allocated more equitably and to greater effect and to support those on the frontlines of this movement.
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a part of the UnionDocs community.
Founder, Executive Artistic Director
We are assembling a list of links to coalitions and activist organizations who have articulated clear demands and outlined potential solutions, along with educational resources, and links to other documentary artists and media organizations to follow.