Accountability in Action
Dear Friends and Supporters of Athena Project:
We must take time to acknowledge the senseless tragedy that has struck the innocent folks at Club Q in Colorado Springs. We are honored to count ourselves as allies to those who share identity markers such as trans, nonbinary, LGBTQIA+. Words cannot express our outrage and our sadness at the violence which has erupted from discrimination and hate directed toward this community.
Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy. We honor those who lost their lives helping others.
We know you share our feelings of helplessness and anger. While this small step cannot fix the situation or our grief, we wanted to let you know about a local resource that is accepting donations to provide resources to victims and their families:
Please also find additional resources for support within this Colorado Public Radio article:
And this one from USA Today, featuring quotes and resources from our Board Member, Rachel Smith:
We encourage you to share more resources with us as you discover them–we will amplify them on our social media channels.
To straight and cisgender allies, we urge you to support the LGBTQ community, both in this current moment and when the headlines are no longer about the Club Q shooting, and take action to protect them. Call out hate speech when it occurs, fight misinformation and disinformation when you see it, and educate yourself on the issues that affect the community.
To the LGBTQ community, we see and honor your sadness, anger, fear, and loss in the wake of this event. We at Athena Project send you love and healing. Our hearts ache and break with you.
OUTRAGED. SICKENED. DEVASTATED. GRIEF-STRICKEN. APPALLED. FURIOUS!!!
These words do not even begin to cover the rage (and we use that word intentionally) of emotions we at Athena Project are feeling with the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. We stand in solidarity and support of women artists, most of whom don’t even get access to basic healthcare unless they can afford some minimal health insurance coverage on their own. They already face obstacles when seeking and paying for medical treatment. This decision now adds even more barriers to their plight, limiting access and rights to care in so many more ways. This decision goes far beyond a woman’s right to choose an abortion. It impacts her right to privacy, her right to choose her body over anyone else’s, and her right to advocate for her life’s decisions. The ripple effect of this horrifying decision is beyond comprehension.
Aya Gruber, Professor of Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Colorado Law School said on Friday: “This is the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has acted to take away individual rights”. She went on to say that rights we have taken for granted, such as our right to privacy, are now also “on the table” to be ripped away from us as well.
The Supreme Court has endorsed the wrenching away of these rights with no regard for the chaos that will result. Will there be help for all of the workers who have provided this essential medical care who are currently without jobs? Will medical providers now face prison time? Will there be legislation that funds assistance for those mothers who are forced to give birth to fetuses who have no chance to survive more than a few days after birth? Will women now face being stripped of their fundamental right to access birth control?
Our hearts go out to the following people especially:
- Women enroute to get an abortion Friday who were told they can’t and all the women counting on it in the coming days whose appointment got canceled.
- People providing care at abortion clinics in Mississippi, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee who are now out of a job.
- Women and GIRLS who are being raped or molested right this minute who may be getting pregnant and will be forced to carry that child to term. (According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, an American is sexually assaulted EVERY 68 SECONDS).
- Pregnant people carrying a non-viable fetus whose own health is at risk and are unable to get care–and all women of color whose maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is already 3x higher than white women.
- Those unable to afford time off work or without funds to travel to states where abortion is still legal.
- Doctors who put their patients first and can no longer live up to their oath to care for patients without risking imprisonment.
- Women who have been raped or molested and were able to choose whether to have an abortion and the emotions they must be feeling….their daughters now have fewer rights than they did!
- Every currently pregnant person who miscarries and is now subject to “investigation” on how that pregnancy was terminated.
- All of the activists and nonprofits who have been warning, no, screaming, that this was coming, who know there are many more marches to organize and more fighting to be done. And how tired they already are.
- The additional burden on health care providers and mental health workers to support all of the women (and men and families) listed above.
If you are as enraged as we are, please reach out. We believe in the power of arts to heal and create empathy. We know firsthand the power of women artists sharing their beliefs and fighting for justice. For activists who attended the recent rallies, share your signs! Tag @AthenaProjectArts and use #AthenainAction. For artists creating in the #ReproductiveJustice space, share your work. We will share it, highlight it, make introductions where we can to various leaders in our community to amplify your voice;
And to the people who are reading this who might be non-artists: Your job is simple. Turn OUTRAGE into ENGAGE. Let it fuel you. Don’t look away. Don’t think that it doesn’t affect you – it does. It affects us all. Vote in the mid-terms and vote in your local elections. And DONATE to organizations to support the ongoing fight for women’s rights:
Thank you to Colorado Congresspeople who led the way in April to help secure Colorado’s right to reproductive health care, including abortion: Senator Rhonda Fields, Senator Julie Gonzales, and Jessie Danielson just to name a few of HB 22-1279 supporters.
In the words of fellow arts activist organization, WAM Theatre, “Today we grieve alongside you; tomorrow we will continue to work.”
We invite you to join us in recognizing and acknowledging that we are on the ancestral homelands of the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Nations and Peoples. Our intent with this acknowledgement is to create awareness around and invite others to take action to support indigenous communities. Acknowledgement is a simple, powerful way of showing respect, honoring the truth, and a step toward correcting the practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture. In addition, since our activities are shared digitally to the internet, let’s also take a moment to consider the legacy of colonization embedded within the technologies, structures, and ways of thinking that we use every day. We are using equipment and high-speed internet which may not be available in many Indigenous communities. Even the technologies that are central to much of the art we make can leave significant carbon footprints, contributing to changing climates that disproportionately affect indigenous peoples worldwide. We invite you to join us in reflecting upon our roles in reconciliation, decolonization, and allyship.
Learn more about land acknowledgements: https://usdac.us/nativeland
March 24, 2021
Statement on loss of life in Boulder
It is heart-wrenching that in the course of a single week, we are experiencing another senseless tragedy in our own community. We wish to give voice to those who are no longer with us because of this horrific event. Rather than further discuss the shooter, we wish to amplify what we have learned about the innocent bystanders who lost their lives on Monday.
Denny Stong, 20
Neven Stanisic, 23
Rikki Olds, 25
Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
Teri Leiker, 51
Eric Talley, 51
Suzanne Fountain, 59
Kevin Mahoney, 61
Lynn Murray, 62
Jody Waters, 65
As an organization that exists to amplify the voices of women in the arts, we can’t help but take a moment to recognize fellow artists who are known and beloved in the Colorado creative community:
Suzanne Fountain, 59, an actress who was part of the Denver and Boulder community theatre scene. Lynn Murray, 62, was a former photo editor whose work had appeared in the nation’s top fashion magazines such as Glamour, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. Tralona Bartkowiak, 49, ran a local clothing boutique with her sister that catered to the music festival crowd. Jody Waters, 65, worked at and owned various clothing boutiques at Boulder’s iconic Pearl Street Mall.
We encourage you to take a moment to learn more about the victims’ lives via the links provided below. We mourn the loss of each individual as well as the loss of their ideas, their creations, and the lives they could have touched.
To learn more about them:
Grief for these families cannot be approached with words alone. In solidarity, we ask those of you who can to make a donation to the Colorado Healing Fund in honor of the victims. Their families need our empathy, our support and our love.
Finally, if you need help processing these recent events or know someone struggling with their mental health, please contact:
Colorado Crisis Services
Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255)
Or Text “TALK” to 38255
March 22, 2021
Statement on Violence against Asians
In light of the events that took place in Atlanta this past week it is with a heavy heart that we reach out. We must name these events for what they are – racism and sexism against Asians.
We express our deepest sorrow to members of our Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The violent attack on women, specifically Asian women, in Georgia on March 16 is why we must continue to speak out and remain united with those under attack.
We have been shown once again how deep the roots of hate are in this country. We must all commit to doing everything we can to dig them out, once and for all.
We would like to raise awareness of the important work being done by our colleagues at Stop AAPI Hate. Stop AAPI Hate @StopAAPIHate is a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian discrimination amid the pandemic. They track and respond to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US. Please visit their website to learn more, report an incident or access their resource page. If you can, please make a donation to their organization in honor of the victims of Tuesday,March 16th horrific attack. https://stopaapihate.org/
To the artists especially, you are the truth tellers of this time. Thank you for speaking out through art. We see you and we will uplift you.
Angela Astle and the entire Athena Project Team
We want to take a moment to honor the lives of those who were tragically lost.
Hyun Jung Grant, 51
Xiaojie Tan, 49
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
Yong Ae Yue, 63
Suncha Kim, 69
Soon Chung Park, 74
Daoyou Feng, 44
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 54
Please take a moment to learn more about these women. Remember their names and their lives. They matter.
June 6, 2020
We are deeply outraged over the systemic inequalities and racism that divide our nation. Our sadness is overwhelming and our fear of making mistakes has kept us quiet. But this is not the time to be silent. We will act!
We renew our commitment to our communities of color to:
- Listen humbly
- Dig in and get uncomfortable
- Speak out against injustice
- Own our mistakes because we know they will happen
- Amplify black and brown voices
- Share and support the creatives in our community that lead us to understanding and empathy
Next, we will continue to use our platform to spotlight the artistic contributions of womxn of color. We will listen, honor and spread the word about their work and creativity.
We ask that you take action with us in this simple way: Call, text and uplift an artist of color today. If you don’t know any artists of color, seek them out.
We welcome your feedback, your questions, your ideas! One of the most important ways we can speak out against injustice is to encourage dialogue about it. We know there is much work ahead and we continue our journey with humility, determination and great love for this community and our nation.
Angela Astle and the entire Athena Project Team
P.S. Put your dollars toward uplifting Black women owned businesses found within this list. https://303magazine.com/2020/06/black-owned-businesses-denver/