The death of George Floyd during police custody and the ongoing protests across the country are bringing important conversations about racial justice, conversations that need to keep happening until words become action. Racism persists in all aspects of our society, including the creative sector, and is aided by centuries of oppression, structural barriers, and complicit silence.
When I began at Spaceworks in 2018, I remember reading the July issue of City Arts Magazine, which featured a series of articles called “The Spirit and Substance of a Changing Tacoma.” The words from our city’s creative leaders imprinted deeply and shaped my tenure as program director. Racial disparity, gentrification, and displacement are life-and-death issues for artists and entrepreneurs of color in Tacoma. We already know that launching a business is challenging, but when the median net wealth of White households is 13 times higher than Black households, we understand that the deck has been stacked for a long time and the status quo is unacceptable.
The pandemic has exacerbated and illuminated racial disparities. Spaceworks community—we need to interrogate this gap, unapologetically, and use our talents to make, create, and act in the face of injustice. And show up and support our Black community members, like at tomorrow’s vigil for Manuel Ellis.
Today we also want to center the work of the Tacoma Urban League, specifically their Black Business Directory. Supporting this organization and their members is a direct and important way to offer economic security within Tacoma’s Black community. We believe that entrepreneurship not only builds financial health for individuals and families, but is also a path towards a more equitable Tacoma.
-Michael Liang, Spaceworks Program Director