Despite that this leg of the conversation started as a personal attack against me (which I refuse to respond to), only 3 people, Isaac, Scott, 99, have even so much as acknowledged that I am a real person with real feelings that can be hurt. Everyone else wants to talk about "the dialogue" (which usually means a handful of White people talking to each other and talking at people of color). It pretty much goes like, "Yeah, it's pretty shitty what Garvey said to RVCBard, but whatever - it's more important that we discuss the discussion!"
This is exactly what I talked about only 3 days ago:
My friends of color are skeptical of those of us who are white and talk about change and diversity. We have made mistakes over the years: have promised action and stayed with discussion. We have atched our own backs first and those of our colleagues or friends of color only after we have made sure we have gotten what we needed. Many of us have come to the table with the paternalistic idea of "helping the oppressed," of bringing our beneficence to the struggling masses of common folks. We have done this n the polite guise of community change, of foundation aid, of board membership, and we have done it imagining that we are bestowing great good on those incapable of getting it for themselves. We have come with condescension, false promise, and little follow-through. We have come with limited time to work things out, to disagree, or to argue. Rather, we often comei n a hurry to bestow and get out, go home, head back to our own neighborhoods.With this discussion, it's the same thing all over again. Do you recognize any of this?
Indeed, the most consistent failure of White theatre artists throughout this and similar discussions has been their insistence upon talking. Talking to, talking about, even talking over. There's a lot of worry and lamentation and righteous anger going around, but it all seems to be so much pissing in the wind because I rarely see - at least on the theatre blogosphere - any real engagement with the very people affected most by the state of things - theatre artists of color. I see a one-off post every now and then, expressing the appropriate amount of progressive ideas, but no real effort to connect with us. What, are we not important enough? Too small potatoes? Our work lacking artistic sophistication? For real, I've been more or less begging for some of you to listen to me, to respond to me, to engage with me. I don't even need all the fingers on one hand to count the number of people who have done so, whether online or in real life. Seriously, what am I to make of all this talk and invisible back-patting when the closest examples in my own life all too often illustrate the very points they're making?Do you really not see how completely fucked up this whole conversation is?
For once, it would be nice to have discussions about race to stop approaching racism as though we're talking about Those Other White People. Some of the stuff I'm reading is doing the exact same thing I talked about nearly a year ago. I'm not talking about a random jerk I don't know who decided to go out of his way to talk shit about me on the internet. I'm talking about the very people reading, writing, and responding. I'm probably talking about you.
And you don't (or won't) see it. I can talk about motivations as to why, but trust me in that what I come up with does not make you come out looking squeaky clean. In a way, it's more painful a realization to me than the actual words and actions (or lack thereof) themselves.