Racism at Hugo House: A Public Acknowledgement

Posted Thu, 12/17/2020 - 3:30pm by  |  Category: ,

In August of this year, Hugo House received a letter from members of our community expressing significant concerns about structural and systemic racism within our organization. We respect and honor our community’s willingness to bring this issue to the forefront of our attention, braving risk to reputations and dedicating hours of their time to the cause. We are prepared both to listen and to make real and necessary changes to our organization.
 
We, the Hugo House board and staff, recognize the pain we have caused. We apologize for the harms we’ve caused to Black, Indigenous, and community members of color at Hugo House and for our failure to create an environment that is welcoming to and supportive of writers of all races. Hugo House has failed to build relationships in the community, to make significant investments in racial equity, and to be transparent about its structural racism. Furthermore, Hugo House has tokenized writers of color and failed to adequately diversify its leadership, membership, supporters, teachers, and student body. We have fallen short of our ideals, and we vow to do better.
 
Hugo House is a white-led organization with a majority-white staff and board; we are located in a majority-white neighborhood and have a majority-white clientele. We are part of a literary world that has habitually disregarded and blocked entry to BIPOC writers, and a nonprofit sector that has placed the contributions of white people above those of people of color. Hugo House has benefited from its position of privilege among these unjust systems. We have a lot of work to do.
 
Hugo House is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. As an immediate next step, we will be hiring an independent DEI professional to guide us on this journey, which will include an audit of Hugo House programming, staff and budgetary investments in racial equity, anti-racism training for teachers, an actionable long-term racial equity plan, and an annual diversity, equity, and inclusion report which we will post publicly so our efforts are transparent and accessible. We know there is a long road ahead of us, but we will work actively to become an anti-racist organization, and we will engage with the community in a way that centers racial equity within the world of writing.
 
Thank you, again, to our community for holding us accountable to our ideals.