April 10, 2022—When nonprofit expert Vu Le (pronounced “voo lay”) gave a keynote address at the Creating Change Conference last year, the title of his talk was “A Time for Boldness; Unlocking our Sector’s Power to Advance a Just and Equitable World.” This was my introduction to Vu, and I was both moved and impressed with the brilliant assessment he offered about the frontline role of nonprofit organizations in the push for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the arts sector.
Vu reminded conferees of the urgency of our efforts to pursue ED&I; to be willing to let go of sacred cows and dismantle current systems to create a just and equitable world. He also urged participants to closely examine a system that does not support artists of the Global Majority (talk about a powerful way to describe people of color!) and to demand change, particularly in board positions, hiring pipelines, and grant applications.
Rather than letting ED&I become a fad, like drinking coconut water, Vu added, we must ensure that it is an indispensable component of the nonprofit arts sector, like drinking our morning cup of coffee.
His assessment about the vital nature of arts nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with dealing with white supremacy and systemic racism, continues to be proven true. After the Creating Change Conference, I sought to learn more about Vu and I began following his weekly blog Nonprofit AF.
Vu is the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice through the development of leaders of color; strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. As an expert in nonprofit management, he is a sought-after speaker, and has established online support groups for people working in the nonprofit sector.
One of Vu’s recent posts was titled, “It’s still the apocalypse, let’s give ourselves and one another some grace.” After reading it, I thought it was important to share with the readers of Arts & Culture Connections. This post reminds us to acknowledge the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our lives and the world as we’ve known it, as well as the arts sector. He offers a few important points to help us reclaim our humanity and reset our priorities. I found it inspiring. You can find the post at this link.
Please note, Vu’s post includes language that some people may find offensive. However, I believe the language does not detract from the important point he is making: “Though our literal winter is over, things are still going to be hard for a while. While we wait for the ground to soften, and as we also work to soften it, let us give ourselves and one another grace to rest, to store energy, and to grow.”
As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and comments below after checking out the post at this link.