Honoring Our Roots

For over 40 years Penumbra has been devoted to attending to black culture and livelihood by countering centuries of painful depictions of our people and celebrating the joy and creative resiliency of black Americans. Doing that work responsibly and with accountability to our community has required decades of rigorous learning and practice. We have invested our modest resources in generations of black artists to ensure that they were able to create meaningful, uncensored work, develop their craft, practice leadership, and support their families.

We often ask black artists to delve into profoundly vulnerable spaces to create work that moves us forward through history. They then have to weather racist systems and infractions against their humanity in their daily lives. The toll that this takes on them—to continue to stay open and creative and to weather racism while doing so—is unjust. It risks permanently damaging the fragile and resilient humanity inside some of our most innovative leaders.

Penumbra’s Center for Racial Healing is designed with these empathic, brilliant people in mind. We want to resource their ingenuity, build their resiliency, give them safe spaces to rest and replenish, and support the development of their artistic and healing practices. In turn, we will all benefit from what they create. We see this as a much more equitable exchange than has been afforded black artists in the past. Penumbra’s health and vitality today can ensure that this long held wish of ours—to holistically nourish our artists—can be fully realized.

So many have helped to build this place. The Penumbra Center for Racial Healing is both our inheritance and our offering to future generations. We thank the ancestors for what they carried. We thank those fighting today for what they’ve taken on. We work so that our children and grandchildren can thrive, unburdened and free.