I recently just closed “The Identity Project,” a devised piece of theatre that the School of Theatre had as part of the Quarter 1 season. The process was rocky–my artistic endurance was tested, my regular endurance was tested, and at times I wanted to quit theatre forever.
At first the project sounded exciting! A new play developed by a group on young artists bursting with creative energy? A new play about those artists bursting with creative energy?
It sounded easy, even! “Well we know ourselves more than anyone, and we’re all actors, and writers, and directors, so sharing our stories should be no problem.”
And at first–it was! It was a blast. As a self-diagnosed egocentric, I love to talk and write about myself! Whats my biggest fear? Easy. What’s the story behind my name? Done.
But then topics started to arise that I wasn’t accustomed to identifying with; the topic of “racism in America.” Suddenly, I fell silent.
“Absolutely. Yes. Racism is horrible. Nobody should be racist. Donald Trump must never be president! Intersectionality! White privilege!” -Me.
All easy things to say–but harder to do. And nearly impossible to create art about , when its something that you don’t feel you have ownership of.
I thought it wasn’t really my place. Who was I to create honest art about something that I didn’t know!
But then through the work, I was able to see how privileged I was to be able to talk about these things. And if I didn’t talk about them…who would? If its still considered a “taboo” subject then problems will never get solved. No, I have never experienced racism first-hand, but it is, as a person of privilege, still my responsibility to work toward change.
It is my place.
And now here I am! And maybe the first step toward being a good ally, is raising my hand and contributing to topics about race. Maybe the first step is letting myself be wrong. I live under a cloud of white privilege, and rather than stay silent in fear of letting my privilege show, I should speak up. If I say something wrong, I’ll change it. Bravery. Ok?