In June of 2020, the Tenement Museum issued a statement committing ourselves and our institution to anti-racism work. In order to be transparent with our efforts, we committed to updating the public with an on-going progress report.
Tasked to lead the effort to actualize these anti-racism commitments was the IDEA Council, an already existing body of Tenement Museum staff who had come together to bring forward institutional change related to issues of Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.
The first step the IDEA Council took was to connect with leadership from the People of Color Caucus and the White Anti-Racist Allies Caucus, who were instrumental in the crafting of the commitments. For the past five years, the caucuses have taken the initiative, often voluntarily, to lead anti-racist work at the Museum, creating tremendous change. After an initial meeting, everyone in the institution was invited to be a part of this process. Because this is ongoing work, collaboration and connection across the Museum is essential. Comprised of staff across departments and management levels, the IDEA Council has expanded in size and is prioritizing projects and initiatives directly related to the anti-racism commitments. We have divided our efforts into four working groups: Equitable Hiring and Retention, Training and Resources, Community Relationships, and Accountability.
The IDEA Council is working to support the fulfillment of these commitments with urgency, sincerity, and intention. Every three months, we will share a public progress report for each of the four Working Groups below.
For much of the last few months, the IDEA Council has taken time to reflect on our work and think about how to effectively move forward in supporting the Museum’s anti-racism commitments as well as other IDEA Council projects. In January, the Museum welcomed new leadership with Annie Polland returning to Orchard Street as the new President. Dr. Polland’s enthusiasm for IDEA Council and its work has been incredibly supportive. As the Museum adapts its strategic plan for our current challenges and opportunities, with a particular eye on rebuilding the institution’s operations and culture, IDEA Council initiatives are being integrated into those evolving plans. Our hope is that by closely tying IDEA Council’s work with the Museum’s strategic goals, this will ensure not only institutional support, but also institutional collaboration.
Please click on the individual working groups to see our progress from the last three months: