Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Nov 25, 2020

The Moth's Social Justice Commitment

by The Moth

Updated Post - 11/25/2020

Dear Moth Community, 

Since its inception The Moth has been dedicated to not only elevating diverse voices, but to trying to build bridges of understanding across racial and socioeconomic divides through true, personal storytelling. Now, as Black Lives Matter and various social justice movements continue to challenge the moral, cultural, legal and social entitlements that deny racial justice to millions, The Moth holds tighter than ever to these core values. We honor personal stories because of their unique power to reflect and celebrate human life and to connect and inspire people; and we at The Moth are more committed than ever to working toward equality and mutual respect, both within our organization and in the world at large. 

As we witness daily examples of police brutality, blatant racial injustice and lack of value for Black lives, this urgent call to action remains a priority for The Moth. We will continue to engage in uncomfortable  conversations about the workings of power, and to make substantial changes in the ways we approach both The Moth’s structure and our practices. We are working to elevate more and more voices from the Black community, through our stories and programs as well as within our own culture, and have a duty to inform you - our listeners, show attendees, members, supporters, staff, instructors, and partners - of the work we’re doing.  

Our work thus far includes:

  • Producing All Together Now: Fridays with the Moth, a 17-week summer podcast series featuring primarily Black hosts and storytellers in The Moth Community.

  • Launching Storytelling School with The Moth, offering diverse stories for younger audiences to engage with and learn from.

  • Creating the Black Voices Project within our Community Program which elevates stories from those on the front lines of addressing and dismantling systemic racism in the United States. By adding a race lens – focused specifically on the Black experience in America – The Moth strives to build a community around race equity, helping partner organizations to use storytelling to further their mission, and amplify Black voices on our weekly podcast and The Moth Radio Hour.

  • Producing We Rise: Stories of Community, Resilience, and Irrepressible Joy: a Moth Mainstage featuring an all Black casts. 

  • Hosting a virtual Play it Again, SLAM Showcase featuring eight Black storytellers in support of the Equal Justice Initiative.

  • Diversifying our roster of hosts on both our radio show and podcast. Suzanne Rust has been named a permanent host of The Moth Radio Hour, with additional hours being hosted by other members of the Moth community. The podcast will go from having a single host, to ongoing rotating hosts chosen from Moth staff, hosts and storytellers, with an emphasis put on bringing a diverse perspective to the shows. 

  • Diversifying our executive leadership, Brandon Grant, The Moth’s Director of Marketing, has joined the Executive Team becoming a senior leader at The Moth involved in shaping the organization's overall strategy and vision. 

  • Growing our pool of story directors. As a part of our Director Training Program that launched in 2018, Moth producers Chloe Salmon, Jodi Powell and Michelle Jalowski were promoted to Directors. As Directors they work with the senior Artistic Team to identify and develop diverse perspectives and direct storytellers for Moth Mainstage, GrandSLAMs, Showcases and workshops. 

We are also thrilled to announce the addition of two accomplished activists and social justice-minded storytellers to The Moth’s Board: Chenjerai Kumanyika and Gabrielle Glore. In addition to being a proud Moth storyteller, Kumaniyka co-created and co-hosted the Peabody award-winning Uncivil podcast and works as an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Media at Rutgers University. He also does grassroots organizing with community groups such as 215 People’s Alliance in Philadelphia. Glore serves as the Festival Director for Urbanworld and also serves as a Board Member of MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts). 

The above is an update on the specific measurable goals we set for ourselves earlier this year. But we want to be clear that we recognize this work is only a start to a long-term process and commitment to doing better in dismantling an oppressive system. 

We at the Moth have also committed to look inward. We have begun the work of digging deep within ourselves as individuals, an organization, and a community, toward acknowledging our own contribution to, and enablement of, white supremacist tendencies. Through efforts such as continued staff and board Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training, we continue to examine our internal culture, organizational structures, leadership, and decision-making strategies – to better perceive, recognize, and uproot intrinsic bias in our habits and structures. Our goal is to make The Moth, and the culture at large in which The Moth functions, more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

The journey ahead is certain to be long and often-imperfect, but we are resolute in our mission to bring change through Moth stories. We look inward in the hopes that our efforts will reflect outwardly and loudly in the work we continue to do toward elevating underrepresented voices. And we look forward to bringing you into these ongoing and transparent communications.

Original Post - 6/1/2020

Dear Moth Community, 

To our Black listeners, show attendees, members, supporters, staff, instructors, and partners, please know that we are thinking of you, we hear you and we stand with you in the fight against racism, violence, police brutality and inequality in America.

To the non-Black community, we implore you to take action: have hard conversations about race and inequality within your circles, speak up during moments of injustice, be supportive and listen to your Black friends and colleagues, call your elected officials to advocate for change and equality, donate your time or money to causes that work to dismantle the systemic oppression of Black people in America. 

The senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others have gone on for too long. We support BLACK LIVES MATTER, NAACP, ACLU, Color of Change, Black Visions Collective, and many more organizations that are working to change the narrative, to help stop racial injustice—and honor the lives and stories of those we've lost. 

Now more than ever The Moth will work to elevate more voices from the Black community. To offer a platform for these vital stories to be shared with the world. Through our Friday podcast, All Together Now: Fridays with The Moth we will feature only Black storytellers and Black hosts for the next four weeks. Through our Storytelling School with The Moth series, we will only feature stories from Black storytellers. We will postpone our upcoming fundraiser, Into the Deep: Stories of Hidden Treasures originally scheduled for tomorrow, June 2, because now is the time for mourning and organizing. Through our Community Program, we will create a Black Voices Project where we will work with other non-profit organizations—whose missions are to address and eradicate systemic racism—to share stories from the Black community. And we will continue to cast our flagship series - The Moth Mainstage - so that at least 50% of our storytellers are people of color.

Be safe, take care of yourself and when you're ready, share your story. We're listening.

-The Moth

P.S. If you are looking for resources, here are a few things we've gathered to help you as you mobilize and organize. 

Resources for the Black community

Resources for the White community

#MothPlaylist: Say it Loud