The following statement is being released by Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force executive director, at the close of this year's Creating Change Conference in Chicago:
"I want to make this crystal clear: the National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event including our Creating Change Conference. It is unacceptable. Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable whether it's directed at Jewish or Muslim people. Let me also be clear regarding a reception planned and hosted by the group A Wider Bridge with guests from Jerusalem Open House that happened after the annual Shabbat service and a protest of that reception. We are deeply concerned about how the events of the evening unfolded–and have already initiated a review of our conference practices.
"The last couple of weeks leading-up to Creating Change have been rough. The events leading up to and during it have been extremely hurtful to many–and for really different reasons. What we all are experiencing is complicated and messy. We know that many people at Creating Change share our belief in the self-determination of all people. And for many we have failed to live up to the ideals of our mission or values. We are leaning into the struggle. As Creating Change has grown to over 4,000 people, we are experiencing some of what happens when we ask people to be their full selves, to bring their whole selves to Creating Change … and those whole selves come into conflict.
"There have been many protests over the 28 years of the conference–and peaceful protest has been a hallmark of the pursuit of civil rights in our country. Receptions have never been protested at Creating Change in all its history. We acted to defuse the situation to the best of our ability. Without consulting us, hotel security called the police.
"This year's conference revealed a variety of needed improvements to the systems and infrastructure we have built over the years for a smaller conference — that now need to be evolved to meet the challenges of a growing attendance. In light of all that has happened, I have already started a review of the Conference so we can make needed changes in the future. Among them are: inclusiveness and program content review; safety and security; and promoting conversation and peaceful protest.
"We know we have much to learn and many to learn from. As we work hard to improve the Creating Change Conference experience over the next year, we will include in that review process consulting widely with leaders in different communities, supporters and stakeholders.
"The Creating Change Conference, for the past 28 years, has been both a family reunion, a home for activists, a movement town hall and a place for movement building, for wrestling with the hard issues, and to energize activists to press on. It has always been a special place and will continue to be as it evolves and grows. If not the Task Force, who? If not Creating Change, where?"