In the Area Productions Accountability Statement by Founder & CEO Ben Reuler
I acknowledge that my work is part of a larger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) field. My perspective is important and necessary, and I acknowledge that one reason it is needed is because white people are often less likely to listen to, or be completely honest with, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) practitioners.
As a Jewish person growing up in Portland, Oregon the term “white supremacy” meant, to me, the neo-Nazi skinheads I saw and feared downtown. Like many white people, I had a narrow definition of white supremacy and racism, a definition that excluded the nebulous yet pervasive messages everywhere that enforced white as the standard, the norm, the default. My definition of white supremacy has since expanded; I now understand it as Aysa Gray writes in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and referenced in Ruchika Tulshyan’s Book Inclusion on Purpose: “The systemic, institutionalized, centering of whiteness.”
Along these lines, I acknowledge that my work is intrinsically tied to this country’s legacy of white supremacy, and my work is possible because of Black people (as well as Indigenous and other people of color) who developed the foundation of this field, all while struggling against systemic racism. Many BIPOC authors, leaders, teachers, and others have been gaslit, demonized, tokenized, ignored, and targeted for generations for saying the same things people today, including me, are praised for.
Someone I deeply respect told me: “Wherever there is money to be made, a debt is owed to others who will not get those same opportunities or could not operate safely and effectively in those spaces due to racism.” So, as the Founder & CEO of In the Area Productions, I commit to:
- Using my platform. I will center BIPOC authors, practitioners, small business owners, and leaders in my communications.
- Moving my money intentionally. I will center BIPOC institutions and individuals when moving my money (e.g. donations, vendors, collaborators) and making referrals.
- Having the awkward conversation. I will not shy away from issues of colorism, racism, and bias, neither with potential nor current clients.
- Responding to questions of accountability. I welcome questions or feedback about how I am accountable to Black practitioners, past and present, as well as Indigenous practitioners and other practitioners of color. I pledge to respond in a timely manner and accept feedback as a gift.