Editors Note: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is the former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and a political consultant and activist. She wrote the afterward to We’re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy, her late husband Elijiah Cummings’ memoir, written with James Dale, to be published in September. She recently ran for her husband’s former Maryland congressional seat.
In order to become a more perfect union, the United States must constantly strive to be an inclusive democracy that treats all people fairly and fully embraces cultural forms that reflect the worldview and experiences of its diverse residents.
Culture is important for democracy because it has a profound influence on the beliefs, values, perceptions, and attitudes that shape the social, economic, and political norms of society.
When one group controls powerful cultural platforms, it elevates and legitimates their worldview over that of other groups and marginalizes the experiences and humanity of the dominated groups in the process
Unfortunately, this is how the arts and entertainment industry operates in 21st century America.
Those who work to maintain the status quo—because of beliefs rooted in fear, ignorance, prejudice, hate, or the desire for cultural dominance—effectively limit freedom of expression and the ability to form a true cultural democracy that validates diverse experiences and people.
If America is to reach its fullest potential, this discriminatory paradigm has to shift.
Towards this goal, we the people of the United States of America of every race, color, creed, class, and gender, commit ourselves to advancing an Inclusion Revolution that centers the value of cultural diversity and inclusion in our democracy and reinforces it through the economic, institutional, policy, and social systems that shape the arts and entertainment industry and our nation.
In order to achieve this vision, arts and entertainment industry leaders must also commit—in word and deed—to promoting enlightened understanding that our nation’s cultural diversity is our promise, not our problem, and the basis of our democracy’s strength and prosperity.
Accordingly, we call on industry leaders to pledge support for this Declaration of Inclusion, which demonstrates our commitment to advancing a fair and inclusive society through policies, programs, products, and practices that:
* Recognize the value of diverse people and communities.
* Embrace representations of culturally diverse people, experiences, and images through various platforms.
* Support the development and dissemination of culturally diverse performances and products.
* Champion equitable job, business, and financing opportunities for individuals of different backgrounds.
* Develop pipelines that advance career opportunities for diverse artists and entertainers.
* Foster cross-cultural understanding through education, collaboration, and creative expression.
Americans of all backgrounds deserve to live in a country with an inclusive culture that affirms their constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They also deserve to have leaders who truly believe that these fundamental rights are universal.
An executive worthy of leading important arts and entertainment institutions in the United States of America should also be willing to demonstrate his or her commitment to fairly representing all people and experiences by endorsing this declaration.