“We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.” 

 

– James Baldwin

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PHOTO BY FRIDA, 16

OUR EQUITY STATEMENT

We are living in a time in which solidarity can no longer be a noun, living only in our words and on our social media, but it must be a verb of action, protest, and unlearning. Anti-Blackness and systemic racism are at the core of our nation’s history, impacting every facet of our lives. We are seeing now more than ever, young people are shouldering the weight of our history and being the catalysts of change with BIPOC youth leading the way. We must, as the First Exposures’ staff and board, support these efforts. As a youth-based arts organization working primarily with communities of color and other underserved communities, we are actively committed to dismantling systemic inequality in our society and within our own organization.

We are committed to:

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Diversity and equity in our organization, hiring practices, and in the participants of our program, including mentees, mentors, volunteers, and teaching artists. Our program strives to reflect the community we serve. 

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Prioritizing inclusivity. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, language, religion, political beliefs, or ability. We recognize that discrimination can take many forms, including micro-aggressions, overt statements of bias, and biased decision making. All of these forms of discrimination are prohibited for anyone who engages with First Exposures.

 

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Continuing to increase diversity in all aspects of the organization, including our staff, program participants, and Advisory Board.

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Centering our staff’s wellbeing by providing equitable and accountable compensation, as well as, providing the freedom to take mental health days.

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Redefining value beyond capital in the practices of our Advisory Board through implementing new policy changes, bringing in members engaged in a multitude of community enrichment efforts, and holding regular Conversations on Racism seminars.

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Creating an environment that supports growth, professional development, and learning for all First Exposures’ staff and program participants.

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Educating all within the First Exposures’ community on the roots of systemic racism, discrimination, exclusion, and the wide-ranging impacts that marginalization has had on our communities and the individuals within them. We provide staff and program participants with educational resources, such as explicit and implicit bias training, trauma-informed training, and gender and sexuality allyship workshops.

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Addressing conflict using a transformative justice approach, centering healing and responding to violence and harm without replicating it.

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Making safe community spaces by deweaponizing language in written, verbal, and visual communication through normalizing the use of gender pronouns, providing guidance to find alternatives to harmful language, and valuing the consent and privacy of all program participants.

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Teaching photography through the lens of diversity by highlighting contemporary and historical image-makers of color, as well as, nonbinary photographers to mirror back artists who represent our youth. We support the efforts to decolonize photography from its former use as a tool for criminalizing and tokenizing communities of color.

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Prioritizing the needs of our community in all decisions we make for our organization through projects such as Help-Portrait, an effort to provide free portraits to under-resourced people, and installing public art that speaks to the issues facing our community. 

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Intentionally creating emotional and creative spaces to process our sociopolitical moments personally and collectively for our mentees, mentors, and staff.

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Making our classes and curricula bilingual to ensure that all program participants of First Exposures have equitable learning opportunities. 

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Empowering youth to take on more leadership roles in First Exposures through initiatives such as the Youth Advisory Board, a youth-led program, and curricula decision-making body.

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This statement is an evolving and responsive policy that can change and grow as the world changes and as our youth’s needs require.

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415.716.8651

info@firstexposures.org 
Send mail to: PO Box 881971 San Francisco, CA 94188   

During the Shelter in Place, all First Exposures staff are working remotely.

© 2021 by First Exposures