First of all, thank you for your support of our organization and I hope you find value in our programming and resources. Thank you for coming here today and taking the time to read this.
I joined the Kansas City Women’s Music Network several years ago, attending music circles. As a musician, this group provided me a safe, non-threatening space to try out my new dobro in public, on my own for the first time. I was shy and reserved, but everyone was welcoming and never gave me any reason to feel ‘less than.’ As a white, cis-gender woman, I rarely have that feeling, and I recognize that privilege.
As I am aware of my privilege, I also know that diversity is important to me and I have seen the complicated intersections in my own life. I grew up in a small town in southwest Missouri, where we didn’t have the opportunity to see anything other than straight white people. Only after leaving home did I begin to learn of the multitude of hidden, repressed individuals living in secret all of those years. My own sister came out to me as gay while we were in college, and I witnessed up-close the backlash of her decision to live ‘out.’ We’ve come a long way since then, and our family, friends, and immediate circles accept our family without question. It took time, patience, and more than a few lost relationships along the way.
I don’t yet know the women who don’t feel welcomed to our group. I am sorry for that. We are making strides to become a safe place for ALL who would like to join us. As we have recognized our own privilege, we have made changes and will continue educating ourselves and ensuring a space of equality for all. In 2019, we updated our language to extend beyond just ‘women’ and include ‘female-identifying’ musicians. In early 2020, we began updating our organization by-laws to include a non-discrimination clause. You can read the entirety of that update below. In 2019, we invited Amber “Flutinastiness” Underwood, a prominent local musician of color to hold our keynote at KCWIMCON. That same year, we invited non-binary musician Ivory Blue to headline our concert that closed out the event. This year, we are hosting “WIMCON at Home” and we’re updating the W to “Womxn” – an explicit inclusion of people of color and non-gender-conforming individual.
We have a lot of work still ahead of us as a nation and the Kansas City Women’s Music Network must be an active leader on this journey towards diversity, equity and freedom. It is important that we as an organization continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that people feel safe to express themselves freely through music and that ALL are welcome to participate in the ways they want to as musicians. As a leader of this organization I never want to play a part in you feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome in our organization.
As we continue to learn, we are willing to listen and if you have something to share that we, as an organization can learn from, please let us know how we can be better, not only for us, but for all of you. The conversations will not be easy or comfortable, but we will stand strong in the discomfort so we can create a path forward together.
Thank you for growing with us as we build a community to serve those who are important to us: You, our local musicians.
With love, peace, and music –
Kansas City Women's Music Network