Better Late Than Never

Some of you reading will wholeheartedly disagree with this piece, and that’s ok.

I hope that by the end, some of you will have changed your minds.

I want you to let your students come late to class – or your employees come late to work. I think that you cannot call yourself an inclusive instructor or employer if you do not.

Here’s why…

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Don’t Say Gay

Today’s post will be short and simple, and is addressed to teachers.

Laws in many US States now mandate teachers to disclose to parents if their child expresses identification with an LGBTQIA+ identity.

70% of children are rejected by their families when they come out.

More than 25% are made homeless.

Would you be comfortable gambling away your family on a coin flip?

Would you bet a child’s home on a roll of a dice?

Resist.

Community or Activity? (Part One)

Dance organizers have to make a decision.

No, not “should you require vaccinations?” Or “should you have people mask?” Although those questions are important. But first you need to answer a deeper and more fundamental question about the organization you’re running and how you make policy. The question is:

Are you a community, or are you an activity group?

Go back and read that a few times.

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Think of the Children

I am sitting in a conference, writing this blog post.

I am sitting in a conference, listening to a teacher argue that children learning to play jazz music should not be taught about its history or cultural context. If they learn jazz history and culture, she argues, children will think that jazz is old, and they won’t want to play it. If they learn that the culture of jazz is simply the other children around them, they will build a supportive community of players – they will learn to love jazz. I notice that in all the photos and clips she shows us of happy, even virtuosic, young jazz players there are very few, if any, who are Black.

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In Three Sentences… Critical Race Theory

Racism is the differential treatment of people based on human-invented categorical groupings, and a hierarchy that sets some of those groups above others – specifically, the inventors of race used these categories to justify white superiority over peoples of color.

Racism doesn’t just show up in overt and individual acts of discrimination – it’s also embedded in social institutions (like schools and hospitals), in the law, and in governmental decisions, affecting every aspect of people’s lives.

Critical race theory is based on the idea that we can see the world more accurately, and make it better, if we look for how patterns of racial differentiation have affected our past and present.

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Everything Must Matter

It is the year of the diversity committee.

Even as we find out that American corporations have donated less that 1% of the money they pledged towards social justice, and even as white support for anti-racist initiatives is lower than it was prior to George Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chauvin, more and more people are talking about the need for equity in professional and institutional spaces, and sitting on a whole lot of diversity committees.

Like the diversity committee where I’m constantly misgendered.

Like the diversity committee that runs when folks in a 9-5 job can’t attend.

Like the diversity committee where people refer to being disabled as a “defect.”

Like the diversity committee where people talk about being “gypped.”

Like the diversity panel that – when asked about homophobia in their industry – responded that “that kind of behavior” should really be kept behind closed doors anyway.

Like the diversity committee that asks the people it wants to hear from to take the meeting notes.

Like the diversity committee that wants to solve equity in pay, but doesn’t pay anyone for their time.

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Secret Dance Parties? Halloween Scares Me.

On April 4th, the Detroit free press broke the news of a wave of deaths sweeping the urban ballroom community in Michigan. Dancers estimated that anywhere between five and forty community members lost their lives as the pandemic swept through the area, passed from hand to hand, cheek to cheek, and body to body.

On the 25th of June there was a large ecstatic dance party in Austin Texas. We don’t know how many people went, or how many of them brought, caught or spread COVID. It’s likely that crossover from that event led to some of the infections at…

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Why Fatima Should Stay in the Arts… And Why You Should Too

Rethink. Reskill. Reboot. Proclaims the advert. A young Black ballerina sits on a chair lacing her feet into pointe shoes, her face a portrait of calm concentration. Fatima – which is not her name, she is Desire’e Kelley, a dancer from Chicago* – shows us with the evidence of her presence that she has mastered resilience, clarity, determination, discipline, time-management, and overcome substantial barriers to achieve her goals.

But the UK government doesn’t care about these things.

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Of Otherness

EDIT: This is an archived post from a while back in my review-writing history that has lived for a long time as a draft. I hope readers will still find it of value.

April Biggs’s new dance work, Of Otherness, which debuted earlier this month in Columbus, is deeply, viscerally uncomfortable. As I watch the five dancers stagger, cling, kiss, buckle and crawl around the space my chest tightens, and my fists clench around a word that I would rather shove back down into safety and silence. I do not dare let my breath out – fearing that a whisper of that word would be enough to out me from my place in the audience and shatter the taut space from which this dance emerges. That word is “Yes.”

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