Lost Nation Theater Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In our commitment to DIVERSITY, we celebrate all aspects of human difference, in the firm faith and belief that despite all our differences what unites us is stronger than what divides us.
In our commitment to EQUITY, we strive to work toward fair and just practices and policies that ensure all community members can thrive, while at the same time acknowledging and addressing the reality that structural inequalities, both historic and current, have advantaged some and disadvantaged others. Equal treatment requires equal access to opportunity, which does not mean all are treated the same, but rather that everyone has what they need to progress successfully.
In our commitment to INCLUSION, we recognize that all members of the community must feel respected, have a sense of belonging, and can participate meaningfully to achieve to their full potential. Inclusion must always spring from understanding, and never be a token gesture toward tolerance.
We recognize that true commitment to DIVERSITY, EQUITY, and INCLUSION will always be ongoing and will occur at all intersections. Our commitment to antiracism compels us to see beyond privilege and avoid absolute thinking as we work to implement these ideals.
We See You...
The document We See You White American Theatre, created by BIPOC theatre professionals in response to rising tensions in American race relations, envisions and demands a future Theatre and Arts landscape in our country in which the ideals of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are fully realized.
LNT joins the groundbreaking work of such institutions as WAM Theater of Lenox, MA, as well as Vermont’s Weston Playhouse, Northern Stage, Vermont Stage Company, and Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater in responding to the promise of this revolutionary statement.
Nuance of Race
Unfortunately, the daily experiences of many black Americans are a testament to the violation of this contract, thereby constantly undermining the vital trust needed to maintain it. This occurs at all levels.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We are all affected.
White Americans tend to conclude that their commitment alone is sufficient to achieve a nuanced understanding of race. It is not. Ours has always been a society deeply divided by race, a division founded on, and perpetuated by, white comfort. That bedrock of dissonance has fostered an anti-black racism that manifests throughout our social fabric.
It is incumbent upon white Americans to listen – not to react, but to understand with humility – as the voices of black, indigenous, and other marginalized people show us who we are, and who we might become, should we do the work needed to create a more just society.
To self-identify as an ‘ally’ or as ‘not racist’ is not enough. To be ‘fatigued’ is to cast one’s worldview against the history of the last four hundred years and its impact on the black and native body. Such is the extent to which white Americans have invested in invisibility. To counter this, a culture must be created to work against racism.
In being visible, we tell our story. In telling our story, we are present. In our presence, we change the world.
Robin DiAngelo has developed a blueprint for ‘white fragility’, a term she coined in 2011 and explored in her 2018 work White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. In this book and in others, people of color help her to articulate that racism in the United States is not incidental. It is systemic. Therefore, if we do not engage in the uncomfortable task of self-reflection, thereby interrupting and confronting the socialization white Americans are inevitably subjected to, we unconsciously participate in the perpetuation of a system that is literally killing people. To achieve a more nuanced understanding of race, we recognize that this must stop.
Lost Nation Theater
Past LNT performance and education programs dealing with questions of race have included Having Our Say, Emily Mann’s adaptation of the 1993 book by Amy Hill Hearth about the Delany Sisters; three productions of To Kill a Mockingbird; two productions of The Syringa Tree; Pushing Up the Sky; and Hairspray.
Many of these presentations have been done in collaboration with outreach partners such as the Peace and Justice Center, Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, Vermont ACLU, Justice for All, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and the Abenaki Kowasek Traditional Band of the Koas.
As a multi-generational company and a predominately white institution, Vermonters at LNT stand in solidarity with the BIPOC community. Although we feel we’ve achieved a certain degree of awareness, we continue to question ourselves; to grapple with questions of race; to continually challenge ourselves to do better; and to remain open and grow. We recognize that the possibilities of all that we can do to further diversity, equity, and justice are unlimited, and each new step toward achieving those goals opens up exciting new opportunities for further dynamic growth. Join us!
LNT Action Steps
LNT commits to deepening our work and engagement with our BIPOC institutional partners including members of Juneteenth, Shidaa Projects, Vermont’s Abenaki community, and others.
LNT commits to continuing and expanding our work to make our spaces safe and welcoming for all.
LNT commits to providing space for the work of Vermont’s black and indigenous writers, directors, designers, and performers on our stage.
LNT commits to continuing its policy of adding previously underrepresented voices to our Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers.
LNT commits to making racial justice a core value and daily practice.
LNT commits to working with other nonprofits in central Vermont and regionally to create meaningful impact.
LNT commits to developing outreach programs and enrichment activities inspired by the work presented on our stage.
LNT commits to being held accountable to BIPOC and indigenous communities.