Official Statement: DanceSafe Stands in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
By: DanceSafe Staff
Edited by: Oriana Mayorga, Mdiv candidate
Volunteer of DanceSafe since 2014
Black Lives Matter.
How many unarmed Black Americans had to die at the hands of police for citizens to finally, truly mobilize around police brutality and structural racism? Far too many.
DanceSafe stands in solidarity with and supports both BLM and the protests calling for the eradication of police brutality and militarization, white supremacy (both overt and covert), as well as the systems which have been put in place to support racial injustice and oppression.
The fact that this mobilization has only occurred because of yet another murder of a Black person is beyond verbalization. Recognizing the severity of racial injustice and police brutality in America should NEVER require death to spur action.
Say their names: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, James Scurlock. And countless others.
For many, this explosion of tension around racial injustice is simply a more visible representation of the anger, fear, and sorrow that are part of daily life for BIPOC in America. For others, white privilege has made these problems seem less pressing and relevant until now. One thing is certain: nothing that is happening right now would be taking place if it weren’t for the monumentally oppressive and racist systems that support white supremacy in this country – the very same systems that have constructed and condoned a criminal justice system that massively disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities and spurned the War on Drugs.
As a predominantly white, privileged organization, DanceSafe acknowledges that we have not used our position of power, to actively educate our volunteers and supporters on anti-racism and white privilege. DanceSafe apologies for the harm it has caused our Black and Brown community members. We are committed to doing better and remaining accountable. It is vitally important to us that all DanceSafe work is and remains a safe place for all creeds of humans.
Behavioral Expectations for the DanceSafe Community
There is no room for white supremacy in the DanceSafe community. We must be diligently and actively anti-racist. White supremacy comes in many forms, often exercised covertly; it is often exemplified by white denial of existing racial problems and refusal to hear, acknowledge, and act on the needs of Black and Brown communities. We, collectively, must hear, acknowledge, and act on the needs of people of color in our community keeping their requests at the center of our work.
We have a responsibility to examine our own privilege and use widely available resources, not the emotional labour of our friends and peers of color, to educate ourselves.
We have a responsibility to never let our community forget that the War on Drugs is a war on people, specifically people of color. Racial targeting and institutionalized stigma are two of the biggest contributing factors to drug criminalization, and drug education cannot take place without acknowledgment of, and active retaliation against, the systems which seek to marginalize communities of color.
We have a responsibility to remind our community that the music and art that brings us all together as a community has been sparked and influenced by people of color.
We have a responsibility to create a container where BIPOC feel safe to participate in the community and seek services from DanceSafe, especially those of us that contribute to the overwhelming whiteness of our organization and community.
In order to participate in our organization, all white supporters and team members are expected to self-educate and act as allies. White silence is violence. DanceSafe is committed to monitoring and addressing violence towards BIPOC.
There are many ways to become involved in racial justice movements, some of which are more physically involved than others. Regardless of whether you are capable of being present on the streets during a movement, white folks remain directly responsible for ending systemic, overt, and covert racism. Ways to participate in racial justice include (but are not limited to):
- Listening and centering the voices of BIPOC to best address their needs and concerns;
- Following Black and Brown leadership which may include protesting and/or supporting their needs as they deem necessary;
- There are ways to reduce the potential risks associated with protesting (e.g. goggles with no openings to prevent tear gas from entering eyes, writing emergency contact on your arm in sharpie, etc.). White presence at racial justice protests is important to protect Black and Brown bodies from police brutality.
- Assisting with organizational efforts, as directed and desired by BIPOC;
- Donating to bail funds (these are critical parts of releasing protestors from jail following arrest);
- Donating to Black, Brown, and Indigenous-led organizations;
- Amplifying the voices of BIPOC instead of sharing personal opinions on the best course of action (e.g. sharing existing posts made by BIPOC, spreading awareness of issues that BIPOC experience, intentionally seeking out and distributing media produced by BIPOC, etc.);
- Becoming self-educated on issues of white supremacy, privilege, racial injustice, stigmatizing language, and BIPOC thoughts on race-related issues;
- Remember: it is not the job of POC to educate white folks on racism. Plenty of information exists on the internet and in books that outlines injustice and describes the experiences and needs of BIPOC
- Establishing ways to reduce covert expressions of white supremacy in daily life at all times
- VOTING! We need people, especially more BIPOC, in office dismantling oppression systems and structures;
- Speaking carefully and mindfully about issues pertaining to racial justice, particularly in the realm of avoiding performative justice (becoming involved in social justice for the sake of a trend, particularly when said involvement only occurs during times of crisis) and virtue signaling; and
- Monetarily supporting BIPOC.
DanceSafe’s Pledge to Solidarity
As stated above, we owe our community a sincere apology for not using our platform to better address interpersonal and structural racism as well as the specific needs of our BIPOC community members. Beyond an apology, we owe our community, especially those of color, change through action.
We are committed to expanding our outreach and education efforts to increase visibility of racial injustice topics and invite our white community members to deepen into their allyship.
We therefore pledge:
- To listen, uplift, and amplify the voices of BIPOC.
- To follow BIPOC leadership in their movement towards justice, without attempting to control or adjust their narrative.
- To be receptive, communicative, and humble in response to any community critiques of our education or messaging pertaining to racial justice.
- To improve our education and outreach pertaining to racial injustice.
- To support, cherish, and protect our BIPOC community members.
On behalf of our staff, our extended team, and our board, we stand with BIPOC, now and always.
The DanceSafe Team