Thursday, February 23, 2017

it's all white

i’m not shy about speaking up on things that matter to me. much of my life working as an artist has been a joy, fictionalizing the histories of my own family and people because those real stories are no longer accessible, whether ancestors have already passed on, or those with living memories are unable to tell them. through my work i often learn that what i imagine i am filling in with fiction is in fact information my ancestors are giving me - this, when i am treating my life well and remaining open to receiving. for this, my gratitude is boundless.

in this way, telling our stories is a way for us to thrive after having our survival under pressure for several generations. frankly put - we write as an act of declaring our existence. it is a matter of life and death.

i speak up because i believe in the power of story. i speak up because i understand what it means to sit in a darkened theatre and see a face that reminds you of family, telling stories. i know how it was to watch tv as a teenager in small town alberta and marvel at the work of michelle st. john and jennifer podemski, woman i hadn't then met. “those are mixies, like me!” the power of story is that when we see ourselves in them, they allow us to imagine ourselves into new situations or circumstances. we understand that our voices matter.

many times on social media i have stated that it would be useful for theatre companies to address their diversity and lack thereof, stated plainly. stated plainly - take a page from my own rhetoric, sheesh! - if your production or your entire season is all white, say so.

this is public information once you’ve announced it. it’s not a secret. it does, however, save those of us who are NOT all white the time it takes to google artists we don’t know, in hopes there is some diversity and/or Indigeneity somewhere among the rabble.

recently andy and i spoke with a friend who was dismayed by the whiteness of some of his  upcoming program -  programming that is not curated, but chosen at random. he theorized he’d have to create a special application pool to draw from, for diverse and Indigenous artists, to ensure they’d be among the others.

andy suggested the “special pool” be named all white rather than diverse and Indigenous. ‘cause it’s time. because we’ve been relegated to the Other for so fucking long. so, choose the diverse and Indigenous first and THEN head over to the pool of white options. how else can we ever balance what has been?

why, also, does it always land on diverse and Indigenous artists to point out that a production, season or series of programming is all white? it’s like the sky is falling, but only on us! take on some of the work, people. c’mon.

so, my colleagues.
if your production or your season or your programming is all white, we invite you to say so. you can’t hide it. so speak it. own it.
if you need help finding artists who are not white, as sad as i feel about that for you, i will help you! lots of us will! so, be forthright about it or fucking change it.

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