What Have You Done to Help Black People Stay Alive Today? or, Why I’m Not at TCG

Last year I had the privilege of attending TCG and writing almost 3000 words that ruminated on the topic: What is a Theatre Review(er) Good for? 

I didn’t re-read it, because I’m busy, doing whatever the fuck I can to help Black people stay alive. I’m neurotic, immuno-compromised, and generally traumatized but my Black ass is out here keeping supply lines tight and sending bodies where they need to be.  The far more urgent question I have for you today is: What have you done to help Black people stay alive today?

Yesterday I was organizing a panel called Walking the Walk: Retaining and Hiring Diverse Leadership for TCG. Today, (my panelists and I) are coordinating a protest happening today. We did not know yesterday this was going to happen. We saw an opportunity to help Black people stay alive and we took it. What opportunity do you have to help Black people stay alive today? 

There are a lot of people who were supposed to be at that conference who are missing an opportunity to speak on the things that affect their very lives. I am speaking to my trans and POC friends who are at the crest of their careers, only to be laid off.  Left and right. As long as I have to work this hard for a community of trans and POC theater administrators, conversations about institutions doing what they said they would and hiring us equitably are what my career depends on.

Thankfully this panel will continue because TCG did e-mail me back to let me know they letting people of color reschedule who are under duress. I assumed there would still be a national platform for it, but today as the dust clears I honestly do not know.. That’s their gate to keep. I was okay to take that on my way UNTIL–

A Black staff member went out of their way to write me and identify themselves as Black in their e-mail. This was smart, because that’s what I would also have done. At least, what I would have done when I didn’t expect a predominantly white institution to speak for itself. That is an all too recent time, TCG has an impact, I don’t judge. 

This person then gave an impassioned defense that broke my heart. That it was their belief to hold this organization and our industry accountable and to do right by BIPOC (Black Indigenous, People of Color. And that we can center Black voices in the work while expecting white folks to do their labor. This is a reasonable defense or I would not have lived decades by its hope, but I have seen too many people die now and I have to ask:

How are we centering Black voices by lumping in our liberation with everyone else? Everyone else has not been in a 400 year long hostage negotiation ending in multiple on camera executions by the State.

How are we centering Black voices by holding space when you’ve asked them not to?

How is it helpful to not notify participants we are pulling out to support Black lives in action, however we can?

How are we centering Black voices by leading 1500 white leaders on a conference call yesterday through a poetry reading when they could be adding their voice to the movement? What if all 1500 of those people had phone banked or raised supplies or money for an hour?

How are we centering Black voices by ignoring the fact that the very people we rely on to advocate for our liberation are doing so in the streets? 

How are we centering Black voices by not doing all we can to protect the Black artists who architect our liberation inside and outside of our theatres? 

What have you done to help Black people stay alive today?

What have you done to help Black people stay alive today?

What have you done to help us stay alive today?


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