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NCWN Statement of June 2, 2020

Y’all might recall a few years ago, when some writers from Minnesota sought to challenge our claim that North Carolina is “the Writingest State.” Our debate was heated but good-natured, well-read but frivolous, and—now, in the light of the last seven days—luxurious, reflective of a far less urgent time.

The board, staff, and members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network are proud to stand with our friends and fellow writers in Minneapolis, as well as all other people there and in communities across the country. We stand with all who seek to make their voices heard and their stories known.

We stand against those who seek to silence voices and stifle stories through violence, which only ever reflects the failure or abandonment of language and human reasoning.

We stand against those who inflict violence on credentialed media members, the professional storytellers who put themselves in harm’s way to seek and serve the facts of human experience. We deplore such acts, whether committed by agents of the state or not.

If we have not made it clear before, let us do so now: The North Carolina Writers’ Network is an anti-racist organization. We cannot pursue our mission of connection and community and be otherwise.

We cannot stand by our Statement of Belief—“We believe that writing is necessary both for self-expression and community spirit, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone”—and not oppose the exclusion of any people, anybody with whom we share our full and common humanity—which is everybody.

Black lives matter. Black voices and stories matter, and are, and long have been, subject to unique and ingrained harm in this nation.

We do not “look forward,” passively, to a time when words like these will be unnecessary. We commit ourselves to the work of making such a time come to pass, of making this statement—and all such like it—obsolete. We commit ourselves, again, to lifting up Black writers within the Network, as members, teachers, speakers, and contest judges. We commit ourselves to the work of making the horrific events of the last seven days, and of the last 400 years, not a reality still lived, but only a story still told.

Sincerely,

Ed Southern                                                     Shervon Cassim
Executive Director                                          President
North Carolina Writers’ Network                    North Carolina Writers’ Network

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