For many Black, Brown and Asian children, one of the reasons Jem was significant is that the show presented a rare opportunity where they saw themselves represented in entertainment. They could engage with these characters, explore creative imaginations with outrageous hair colors, and sincerely enjoy play with a doll that looked like them.
The world of Jem represented all types of people, leaning in to our shared humanity and exploring our shared struggles. Jem helped many of us develop a sense of social responsibility through a moral compass that is (still) guided by hope, empathy, sharing, kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness and compassion. We learned that we can only fulfill our potential by speaking up, standing up and fighting for what is good and right – and not through silence, ignorance or inaction.
We at JemCon are simply a group of people for whom these values emanate from our individual cores and reflect as part of our collective spirit. A revolving group of us strive together every year to create a unique and special atmosphere that allows every person to embrace and express their full selves.
It is heartbreaking to us that the longstanding epidemic of racism forces so many whole-hearted people to live half-fulfilled, fear-stricken lives. It is devastating and immensely hurtful to know that for centuries and even to this day, Black people have been and are grossly mistreated, up to and including being killed, simply for being who they are.
Although many of us will never understand, we will stand with you.
We each individually pledge to create, emphasize and implement ways to amplify our voices and take action in support of Black lives. Combined with all of the other voices and actions, we can bend the arc of history away from its current trajectory of oppression and greed -- and instead set a mark towards demonstrable justice and equality. We can make a difference.
We will adapt this year's virtual JemCon and future JemCon programming to feature conversations and activities regarding race relations and representation. While we prepare on our end, we encourage everyone to seek practical resources on how to be a better ally and become more actively anti-racist. If you need some guidance on where to start, we have included some suggested resources at the bottom of this message.
And as planned, we will be back together in Minneapolis in 2021 – with more purpose and clarity than ever – to honor the hallowed ground where George Floyd's life was taken from him, and to celebrate the new reality that we unite to create; hand in hand, side by side, victory to victory. We will make a difference.
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (To explore the backdrop of society)
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (To explore the needed changes in personal attitudes and address the incongruity of how many people deny that racism exists at all, while it actively corrodes so many aspects of society)
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (To explore the current application of past practices that were widely accept forms of segregation-based ideologies and mentalities)
- White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (To explore how preconceived assumptions work toward fostering inequality and sustaining racist practices)
- Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacy Abrams (To explore the process of uprooting racism from the foundation of lawmakers, teachers, human resources personnel and other professionals who create laws, policies and practices that deprive minorities of equal opportunity in every facet of life [work, school, housing, healthcare, et al.])
- Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces by Radley Balko (To explore how policies led to the war-style officer training applied to policing some civilians)
- 13th: A Film by Ava DuVernay (To explore the history of race-based ethnic inequality in the United States, as built upon an extrapolation of words in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery - on Netflix by Subscription, Free on YouTube)