A few thoughts…
In a nutshell: I grew up in a lot of different places surrounded by people who didn’t look like me. Movement was a common language, despite skin color or ability. As a result, RahDanceWorks reflects my personal mission – which is to support inclusivity and diversity through dance content.
Unfortunately racism shows up all over the world in different ways. Overt and nuanced. Please don’t be fooled – injustice is real. And, in case you’ve been living under a rock…
Racism shows up, all the time, in the dance world.
Sometimes it’s hard to see, but it is never okay. It has always been important to be anti-racist, but a lot of folks (white folks) are finally opening up to what this means because of the increased awareness and documentation around police brutality. And what it means to be anti-racist is to take an active approach to dismantling systems, speech, and structures that harbor racist ideas.
I’ve recently started getting my voice out there/blogging so I haven’t been able to touch base on this but I would not feel truthful to my mission if I did make sure not express the following:
I stand with our Black and Brown community members fighting hate and racial injustice in America.
To the dance artists of color in this community, I want to loudly and unequivocally say that YOU MATTER HERE. Your voice is important. Your work is valuable. Your perspective is important.
I continue to listen, watch, educate myself, and stay up-to-date to be an informed and active white accomplice for BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) communities in all areas of life — but especially for the communities I’m involved in. For my fellow white folks: you can do it too, if you haven’t already started. There are so many ways to get involved, and a couple of ways I’ve included here. Please remember to keep educating yourself beyond these bits below:
- Donate to and get email alerts for Black Lives Matter.
- Amplify artists and voices of BIPOC communities on your social media.
- Donate to Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the USA.
- Read and act on 75 Things White People Can do do Racial Justice.
- Donate to a Bail Fund to help protesters who get arrested (you can use this crowdsourced Google Doc of bail funds).
And, here’s one, tip of the iceberg, question on my mind:
How can we white people who work in the field of dance act as accomplices to those who confront and face the consequences of racist criminalization?*
In the dance community, this violence is present in the perpetual erasure and appropriation of the traditions, legacies and histories of Black, Indigenous, and peoples of color and the immense profit being made on the backs of these communities with little wealth returning to them. This practice bleeds into the current crisis, as artists and art workers of color are often the first to lose their jobs and the last to have access to funding.**
Injustice happens in many ways, so let’s make sure to hold each other accountable, show up for one another, and take action for one another.
Here are just a couple of dance-specific resources I’ve seen:
- The Dance Union Town Hall for Collective Action
- An Open Letter to Arts Organizations Rampant with White Supremacy
If you listen and read to either of the above links (which I highly recommend), then I encourage you to Venmo the artists involved to support the time and work that went into their efforts.
This post is just one piece of the conversation. RahDanceWorks is a one woman show, but contributing to change comes in many forms. This is ongoing and active work.
If this statement of support for BIPOC communities makes you uncomfortable or react in a negative way, I would really like to hear from you so we can have a conversation.
Together we are stronger.
Sarah (Founder of RahDanceWorks)
p.s. Leave a comment below if you have a resource to share or legitimate anti-racist fund to donate to. Please know that hateful comments or speech will not be tolerated here.
Photo credit: Tim Gouw
*Question is credited to Contemporary Dance and Whiteness.
**Words in this section are credited to Dance/NYC’s “Open Letter To The Dance Community in Response to the Murders of Black People”