2.18.2010

2 cents on diversity

There are far more intelligent discussions on diversity happening, for instance at Don's place99 Seats, not to mention the daily discussions on RVCBard's Blog. I don't consider myself even a SMIDGE smart enough to engage in this discussion. Sure, I would love to see some more diversity in Theatre, and Art in general, but I have no idea how to accomplish that.

Here's the ONE thing that has always needled me in the back of my brain, though. Cultivating diversity is a broader topic than just in the arts - how can I be expected to seek out and cultivate diversity in the arts when I'm not even doing it in my daily life? (and I'm sure I'm not alone). Personally, I need to refelct on MYSELF, and work on my stereotypes and pre-conceived notions that cloud MY head before I can work on coming up with ways to diversify an entire arts structure. Before we are artists, we are humans. The same white people who try to champion "Diversity in the Arts" are the same people who would change train cars if a group of black teenagers came on, or would cross the street to avoid a group of young hispanic kids. Do you look black people in the eye on the train or the bus? Do you choose to stand on the train rather than sit next to the black man?
I include myself in these questions - I *AM* that person. I am ashamed to say I have thought these thoughts. I don't know where they come from. Society? Upbringing? Personal experiences? Probably a fair helping of ALL of those things.
My growth as a HUMAN includes me now sitting anywhere on the bus or train, regardless of my seatmate. I don't change cars, I don't cross the street --- I look EVERYONE in the eye. And I even try to smile at all of them (depends on the mood - PMS usually derails Happy Dianna a little...)
Not looking for a pat on the back, or a parade proclaiming "Dianna is a CHAMPION of trying to bust through the stereotypes she has in her head! Good for her!". This isn't about how OTHERS percieve my changes in thought and action, it should be about how I percieve them. And I while I feel I've made some baby step style progress, I still feel I have miles to go.

At a recent post on Don's blog, Jesus left the following comment:
"Well, when I read all these discussions about diversity in theatre, and how we can expand the presence of minorities in casts and in the theatre as a whole, it feels like watching people wonder how best to spruce up the siding on a house that has no foundation. It all sounds great and pretty, but those communities have bigger issues than how many of their residents are on stages across the city."
And that sums up how I have always felt about this issue....diversity on the stage is the new vinyl siding, but the issues of racial equality and the breaking down of stereotypes is the FOUNDATION.

People, we can't make our house look pretty on the OUTSIDE unless we fix the INSIDE first.

3 comments:

dpg said...

I admire your honesty on this entry. Kudos to you for "the little steps". Wish more people would realize that regardless of the color of our skin--we all have a beating heart! For years I worked in a state prison educating inmates to get their GED and one conversation I will never forget was with a co-worker that commented "yeah, well most of our inmates are black and hispanics are bringing in the more violent gangs." Out of curiosity I researched the population for our facility and 4 others in the state and was shocked to see white pop was the dominate one in all. While gang threats increased from all sides, I realized how people continue to sterotype regardless of the facts. I'm with you, though. Let the fear cease once and for all! There's nothing wrong with sitting next to a stranger. Just like in school, our friends were first strangers to us. We need to remember that. So, kudos to you! Hold your torch of peace high! And I will, too.

RVCBard said...

Cultivating diversity is a broader topic than just in the arts - how can I be expected to seek out and cultivate diversity in the arts when I'm not even doing it in my daily life? (and I'm sure I'm not alone). Personally, I need to refelct on MYSELF, and work on my stereotypes and pre-conceived notions that cloud MY head before I can work on coming up with ways to diversify an entire arts structure.

That's pretty much all I asked.

~Dani~ said...

Hope you get where you want to me...just keep your eyes closed and mind open! :) nice blog