Documenting the protest project underway at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Dance Program
THIS protest is all about power; who has it and who doesn't. If members of THIS have the right to post a piece of paper or picture on the wall, don't the other students within the facility have the right to take it down? Isn't that a protest within itself and why should THIS assume they have power or even the right to put it up again? You've said what you needed to say, others have heard your cry, out of respect for you they have left THIS up and so if people now choose to take portions down shouldn't you respect that?
A Yiddish proverb writes: “Protest long enough that you are right, and you will be wrong.” At what point will THIS recognize the irreversible pain it has cause to the faculty and students?
As a person of color who has taken classes in the dance department for the past four years, I am perplexed by this protest. I have been steadily reading this blog over the past couple weeks, and this is my first posting.If we look at the dance program as a site of non-technique pedagogies (when we look at how dance theory and histories are being taught in the classroom), there lies a contradiction in the protest: how can you look at the course offerings and the people teaching them (i.e., courses taught by Professors Larasati, Garcia, Brown, Chatterjea) and say that they fail to address race? Wow! This makes me wonder, are these protesters even enrolled or attending or listening in any of these classes? All you have to do is google the research of the dance scholars in this program: it is all cutting edge shit that takes part in dismantling canonical (READ COLONIAL) forms of dance. I am struck by the fact that the protesters fail to see this or acknowledge such work. As a student of color dancer, I am deeply unimpressed by the protest. As someone who is politically aligned with anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression work, I find it frustrating that people from all over the country are responding to this protest in support of the protesters, when blog-readers are left in the dark about the internal politics of what's going on in this program. If the protesters are looking at praxis (translating theory into action) and somehow critiquing a lack of praxis, they also fail to articulate just how this is happening in the dance program. If this is about the casting choices in the Limon piece, I grew confused when I saw the Limon company rehearsing in Barker -- and they were mostly people of color! At the town hall meeting, SEVERAL groups asked, "What are the demands of the protest, specifically?" The THIS protest has yet to actually articulate their specific demands. So I humbly ask my classmates, WHAT are your specific demands? I'm not just talking about addressing racism, institutional racism, white privilege (for these are already addressed in the courses I note above). But what are your SPECIFICALLY looking to do? Is this just to raise awareness of the importance of social identities, intersectionality, and the presence of white privilege in the space of the dance program? If so, your goals have been met; people are aware and are talking. But I sense there is something else, given the persistence of the protest: but THIS protesters, WHAT IS IT?
i appreciate that last comment from March 22, 10:13AM. I have also been following This on the blog here, although i am not involved in the Dance or Theater programs at all. I wanted to point out that This protesters DID articulate some specific demands, but they were rather roundabout or vague and all very wordy. From what I can tell, what This is trying to get at is more Daily Practices, like day-to-day human interactions(within the context of the social hierarchy patterns that govern those interactions and the roles played by the individual actors). I mean, sure there's lots of very progressive forward anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression work in the Department and particularly done by administrators/faculty, but on the other hand the Dance Department falls inside the bigger system of the University; so the broader social dynamics around race-gender-sexuality-oppression that happen in the Dance Department are best understood not as isolated apart in some conscientiously superior way from the broader social dynamics of society as a whole and more particularly the University in general, but rather as a particular instance of those same general broader dynamics. In my opinion, the only exceptional thing about AntiRaceSexOppression dialogue in the Dance Department is that in this instance there is actually some demand being articulated to put these unaddressed issues on the radar in an unprecedented way, so as to perhaps move towards some resolution on these major social issues, or at least how they play out in the daily interactions we all share with other members of our communities.
This comes from Ida Maree and i dont care if you post this in the barker:it's time to take this down. enough people have seen it, including now folks from around the country. if you feel so strongly about the things you're saying, then have the audacity to show yourselves, and have the power within to take it down. i dont know what you were trying to get out of this but frankly, i'm over it.
By god, if this isn't the most elaborate display of sour grapes I've ever seen!This protest is unfathomably ironic. Every action you have thus far taken has come from a place of privilege. Privileged people get to sleep in a home with a roof at night. Privileged people have the means to feed themselves. It is only privileged people that have access to a university education. The gall it takes to speak of privilege in the environment of the dance program is ridiculous. This protest blatantly disrespects the life-long work of the faculty, yet they continue to show support for you.Really - you weren't cast in the way you wanted or expected. That is what THIS seems to be about. To me THIS is less about privilege and more about sour grapes.
is THIS what you want? really? http://gawker.com/5181060/university-of-minnesota-dance-program-devastatingly-exposed-as-privileged
I'm writing a piece for the Wake student magazine on your protest. It would be a much more relevant article if your voices were included. At the Wake we'd rather be a venue for alternative perspectives than a tool of the institution, and we'd like you to use us as such. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in talking.
As an outsider, THIS seems completely ridiculous. Try to come up with some solid things you actually want done. By the way, I'm anti-racist too. But I feel an obligation to let you know that you look silly.
Check this out:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc
"We are not embarrassed to take responsibility for these problems by breaking the shame of speaking about them."Please, Please do take responsibility for publicly accusing your faculty and peers of ignorance and pacifism toward their privilege. For while you stay anonymous, your faculty are answering to the larger power structures on your behalf. As the university questions the program's curriculum, wondering what the faculty has been advocating and preaching to it's students, all students of the program loose. As the university keeps a closer watch on the department, the open discussions of race and privilege that I knew as a student there, may become stifled. Please be aware of your strategy, and be careful that it brings about the change you hope to see. Please be aware that you are placing your "responsibility" upon your greatest allies, for time and time again they stand up to larger power structures on your behalf. If you take responsibility for your actions and choose to speak to your faculty, or simply look at their resumes, they are filled with evidence of past and present actions against racism. Please be aware of the many battles your faculty fight in order to make the dance program a more diverse and open space. Please be thankful that they have supported your protest, and recognize that you are privileged to have a faculty that cares deeply for all its students, for they could look at security tapes and have you arrested for vandalism at any moment, but choose not to. Please speak to how you have been silenced. If you haven't noticed, as it stands, all of your work towards exposing white privilege in higher learning (an important issue) looks like over-intellectualized whining about a casting decision. Which is unfortunate, because I give you more credit than that. And without specifics nothing can change. The faculty are already making their own efforts to change the program, i.e. bringing in diverse quest artists, revising curriculum, recruiting a diverse student body. Yes, the dance program is a space of privilege and prejudice, but so is the whole university, so is Minneapolis, etc. etc. Sadly, the faculty have not the power to completely erase this fact of life. Thank you for reminding us all of our privilege, for in the routine of daily life, sometimes I loose sight of the access my class and race grant me. I believe this is why your guerilla art protest was received so well in its early stages, and I really do thank you. However, the relevant, productive questions after your specific accusations of the program are: how can the dance program change to make your voice heard? and How was it silenced?Thank you, for your protest has pushed buttons, and begged many interesting questions. As I write this objection of sorts to your protest, I am questioning myself and whether my requests are in earnest, or a plea to maintain the status qua in a department that I care about. But as I come and go, and interact with the program, I am more impressed by the faculty for their grace and support of this protest, as they struggle to figure out what they can do to make the program work better for their students, than I am of your protest. That is until you take responsibly for your accusations, expose either your identity or your specific needs. Until then, your protest looses its potential power and sadly looks like jaded students denying their privilege while accusing others of denying theirs. Which is truly sad, because I can tell from your postings that you have been hurt. But I just don't know how. Thank you,Rachel Freeburg
As news about THIS continues to spread, e.g. --http://www.tcdailyplanet.nethttp://minnesotamist.blogspot.comhttp://gawker.com/5181060/university-of-minnesota-dance-program-devastatingly-exposed-as-privilege-- what is being accomplished so far?
Just my two cents...I am a student at the U of M, and I walk by the dance center every day. This means that every day I see your sign that reads "This is a space of privilege and prejudice." I think if that sign is going to stay up you should put another one underneath it that directs people to this blog. That sign makes a really strong statement, and I can see how it might confuse or offend some people if they are just reading it as they walk by. Personally, I was more or less confused about the sign because I hadn't heard anything about your protest. I had to ask a friend in the dance program as to what was going on. It would have been helpful if there was a this blog site underneath just in case people want more information. Every time I walked by your sign and read it (completely out of context because I knew nothing about THIS protest)I felt a handful of emotions (sad,angry,hopeful,etc) because it reminds me a lot of my own experiences regarding racism and white privilege.. But I guess that's also what ultimately sparked my curiosity to figure what that sign was all about. Call me overly sensitive, but after a while I started to feel like shit reading your sign because of the experiences I've had (and still continue to have) in regards to my race. Again, it would have been nice to have something underneath it direct me to this blog. As silly as the reasoning behind this suggestion sounds, we both know that racism is still working in our post-modern society and that still hurts the "sensitive" minds of many people of color in it.Aside from that small suggestion I think that your protest is important, and I hope you get across your message. I sincerely support and applaud your efforts. I'm sorry if it's been hard for people to take you seriously, and if others have been dismissing this issue because they feel you are "whining" or "complaining" about something. This is clearly apart of a bigger issue...-Lea
Thanks for raising this issue publicly. As someone who no longer lives in Minnesota, and remains committed to anti-racist thought and action, I can tell you that I am always on the look out for creative ways to make conversation happen. Dialogue, self-examination, and institutional analysis are critical AND hard to come by.As someone NOT at U of M, this protest makes me appreciate the really challenging work that is happening their. Your (THIS folks) appreciation of your faculty's efforts to open spaces for this conversation EVEN as you hold them accountable for doing better is the sort of transformative work that needs to occur across this country. I salute your faculty and the support they've offered (as piecemeal as it has been) and I honor you for the time and energy you've put in to carve out a space for this dialogue. I hope your efforts will be duplicated widely, though the next creative effort will have to be innovative as well! Thanks for paving the way.Christopher, Boston
In an initial response:There should be classes within the dance program offerings that meet the CLA liberal education core and themes requirements. If this means opening up enrollment for these classes to non-majors, find the resources needed to make this possible.Do you not consider writing intensives as part of the CLA themes and cores?How about other humanites core and cultural diversity? The courses are open to non-dance majors. Have you looked at the course schedule and the requirements these classes actually fulfill? Do your research, I beg of you. DNCE 1401 Introduction to Dance meets Lib Ed req of International Perspect Theme; meets Lib Ed req of Other Humanities Core)DNCE 3401W Dance History 1meets Lib Ed req of Other Humanities Core; meets Lib Ed req of Writing Intensive)DNCE 3487W Dance and Citizenship: Land, Migration, and Diaspora(meets Lib Ed req of Cultural Diversity Theme; meets Lib Ed req of Writing Intensive)DNCE 3402W Dance History 2International Perspect Theme; meets Lib Ed req of Other Humanities Core; meets Lib Ed req of Writing Intensive)DNCE 4454W (Re)Writing the Dancing Body(prereq Jr or sr; meets Lib Ed req of Writing Intensive)
As a "white" person in the space, I no longer feel safe to say anything about THIS. Whether it is discussing, criticizing, or agreeing. I feel cut off by the protest. I'm sick of the labels. I'm sick of the acusations towards students and faculty. I'm sick of THIS.
It's interesting that the members of THIS, having sparked what seemed like a productive debate, particularly in the fairly egalitarian space of the blog, appear to have missed the fact that much of the student body (not to mention the faculty), and particularly many students of color don't feel represented by or comfortable with the positions and tactics of THIS. The very rigid demands (in the latest "open letter") for huge structural changes in the department that would affect EVERYONE (ie taking up thought, time, and particularly impinging on ability to get anything else done), seem to work against the constructive criticism you've received on this site which has eloquently pointed out the great complexities brought up by the actions you've taken. Is the only way to enact a dialog about justice and diversity to set up a highly structured and regulated environment within a department, which in effect enforces the standards of a small group on the artistic and intellectual tastes and practices of your colleagues? As I said, I think you've brought about a very important discussion, but this approach seems to ignore the diversity within 'diversity' and 'justice,' working instead to silence those who disagree with THIS through the proposed creation of an authoritarian and bureaucratic wall. In doing this, you risk eliminating some of the most important voices, particularly the many who may both agree with you and offer an expansion or diversification of your concepts of justice and equality. An approach such as yours has rarely, if ever, worked in the past. One simple example: Lenin and the Bolsheviks fought against a system that was incredibly unjust. But their own stringent enforcement of their own limited ideas of "justice" and "equality," which invaded every last detail of the lives of Soviet citizens, has not been shown to be a viable or just solution. You should read some of the accounts of Soviet era artists who had to deal with books of regulations and committees charged with making an "objective" judgment of a work of art and its representation of "the people's needs." If an artist ran afoul of such a committee, of course, they were censored, ie silenced. It's probably not necessary to go into further examples of where notions of universal, enforceable, and 'objective' aesthetics, justice, and human rights have led. These ideas come largely from European enlightenment thinkers and have been used to justify things far, far worse than Soviet communism. To address some of the core dance-related issues on your manifesto: When you demand that faculty MUST change their opinions about various kinds of dance, and that "No dance style should even privately be snidely alluded to" you are attempting to enact an invasive, totalitarian structure on a group of people whose existence is predicated on production and analysis of something that is inherently complex and will never be anything but subjective. The dance faculty come from a variety of different backgrounds and interests, and the department's aesthetics and politics will necessarily be shaped by that no matter what. It is the responsibility of faculty (and students) to be as open and accepting of as many dance forms and intellectual positions as possible, but it is impossible, as humans, for them to either like or agree with everything out there. If you are so at odds with the broad combination of political, aesthetic, and intellectual positions in this department, instead of demanding it be torn down and started over from scratch according to THIS' rules, it might be better to simply find another dance program that represents your interests or concerns more closely (although it's extremely doubtful there will be an exact fit).You've brought up a number of very important issues that do need to be debated and addressed in an open manner. But attempting to enforce your own set rigid guidelines on the entire department will never lead to greater justice or diversity. Your approach will simply polarize the department, but perhaps that is your intention. Stick to the tactic of open debate and gradual change through consensus. If you do, you may find you have more allies than you think.Please limit the posting of these comments to this blog.AB
This is Matt Jenson. Just wanted to comment about the photos in Studio 300. I agree with you that it is a good idea to replace those photos because they no longer represent the fullness of the Dance Program. I was the person who selected those photos in 1999 from the all of the images that we had of Dance Program students. At the time, it was a pretty accurate reflection. Working with Marge Maddux, the director at the time, a conscious effort was put into representing the diversity within the department as much as possible.I think the display would look very different and reflect many more viewpoints if that process was repeated now, which I think is very exciting.Also, FYI, half of the images are studio shots, half are of specific dances. The choreographers of those works are:Kai Takei ("24 Hours of Light")Donna Uchizono ("San Andreas Fault")Shapiro and Smith ("Lamplight")Joe Chvala ("Berserks")
By the way, Comment number 15 is by Brent Radeke.I forgot to sign.
Just wanted to say..Thanks for putting that sign up.-Lea G
I must inform you of what happened tonight at the Barker Center. Brent Radeke, Lauren Baker, and Myself decided enough was enough. We want real conversations to happen about the very real issues that is around the "this" protest/exhibit. We all feel very strongly about what the issues mean as a daily practice and education and also believe that our actions tonight were not a personal attack nor was it an act of silencing. We want real conversations to happen and we hope they do.Tonight we were let into the Barker from some students who were rehearsing in the space after hours. We than proceeded to take down ALL of the writings and images on the walls, windows, and pictures. We were in the process of recycling them when i was confronted by someone who was concerned about our intentions. They then called some people and left the building to return with a group of individuals who made there involvement obvious. There intentions were to retrieve all we had recycled. They than took our pictures and video taped us "in action". A few non confrontational words were exchanged but for the most part we did not speak to one another, simple non emotional requests were made. One person asked that if when we could get into 300 and 301 (studio/classroom spaces that were locked) in the morning to not throw anything away. I promised them that we would not...and we would place them on a table in the lobby for them to pick up.We did our very best not to deface any of the barker walls, though it was very difficult because of the tape they used. We take full responsibility for any damage that may come forth and are prepared to help clean, paint, or put money towards any damage found. We hope that this moves us toward real conversations, and we hope our peers are willing to express the very real issue at hand. We are willing to help with furthering conversations and action, and we hope you are as well. We understand that personal feelings have been hurt....on both sides, but that is the risk we have taken among many others. We hope these personal feelings can be set aside as we try to bring both sides to one and do real allie work.We are sorry if this puts any of you in a compromising position because of varying degrees of relations with the three of us. We care so much about happened to cause "this" and we hope our actions can move us forward.Jessica BriggsI would like to second this. I am deeply sorry if this puts any of you in a compromising position. We knew what we were getting ourselves into as far as liability, and our main goal was to cause action. The issue can no longer be covered up by words, and we all felt it was time to talk and take action. This was our version of activism towards change, towards conversation, towards daily practice. We fully support the ideas of the original protest, of fighting racism, sexism, heterosexism, sizism, homophobia, classism, ageism, and many other isms. Let our actions propel the discourse for change.Brent Radeke
I third what Jessica and Brent have said. Our goal was not to personally attack the ideas of THIS, but rather take action towards the daily practice of those ideas. We all support social justice activism but at this point, we must do so with purposeful conversations to move ourselves and this program forward.-Lauren Baker
I also agree with Brent, Jessica, and Lauren. This is the face to face conversation that will move us all forward. Tawny
I would like to see any of the individuals of the This protest create a new work about this experience. I think the creative working out of these ideas would be the utimate challenge and engage many people, not just dance program folks.Paula Mann
with no control of my tone....trust that i am being sincere.I hope everyone is ready to do the work tawny, and have the conversations that are both important and necessary. cannot stress enough how important the steps are Jess
We want real conversations to happen and we hope they do.Can you define a "real conversation?" Who should determine the parameters of that discourse?I'm following this protest with interest, as someone who witnessed similarly-themed protests at my own university back in the 1980s.
marydell, I am glad you asked because of course this is what we are starting to figure out. Though i do not claim to be an expert or even claim to be "right" in my views and actions i do know what i hear and see, which contained very confused students who had no one to ask questions to or unpack the awareness that comes from such material. Our attempt to create conversation includes a series of workshops and ally training, free of charge for the students and faculty here at the Program that will deal with White Privilege, Racism, GLBTQ issues, Women's rights/sexism, Dis/Ability and Dance, Institutional Power structures and struggles, and Classism. This of course is not the only solution, it's just one of many we hope are explored and pursued as we enter into the next phase. Jessica
These comments seem very peculiar to me.Jessica said: "We hope that this moves us toward real conversations, and we hope our peers are willing to express the very real issue at hand."From what I can tell, your peers have expressed quite a lot about an issue that is a reality of their lives.Your implications that:a)because you have not been privy to all conversations, no "real" conversations have been happening and b)there is a "real" issue separate from what was expressed by THIS -- would certainly make me feel shut down were I part of this protest/program/school.Brent said: "The issue can no longer be covered up by words, and we all felt it was time to talk and take action. This was our version of activism towards change, towards conversation, towards daily practice."How do you feel this issue was "covered up" by words, when those words are what brought the issue to light? How do you feel that tearing down the *initial movement* toward conversation will foster daily practice and communication? Also, who "all" are you referring to?What this looks like to me is silencing. It looks like an attempt to define the parameters of conversation, where it is allowed, who is allowed to safely engage in it, and how it is allowed to take place.
Dear Jessica,I have been watching thisbyus for some time, though I am not a student at the U. I live in Minneapolis. I'm always amazed that people can be so vicious.You tore down and trashed the protest. I understand that you are employed by the director. Was this by her orders? If so, I'm really unimpressed with her professionalism. If not, I'm really unimpressed with yours. You keep saying "we" -- who are you speaking for? The director's office? You all need better talking points.Silencing protests in such a sneaky, cowardly way is not the behavior of an ally. It is the behavior of someone who wants to silence the protestors. That should not be construed to mean I think the original protest postings were sneaky and cowardly. It is very clear that your department will do anything it can to silence people who object to how you handle diversity, or rather fail to. It is significant that you felt the need to check off every possible source of oppression; it means you can avoid dealing with the racism actually under discussion.I am so sorry for university students who are unable "unpack the awareness that comes from such material." If they are so unable to do so, that really points to the faculty failing to do their job, because this is really Racism 101, and not terribly advanced. Is it the usual practice of your department to dumb down the curriculum until people can deal with it without having to work very hard? I'm glad I'm going to a different school."As we enter the next phase"? You speak as though you have actually engaged with the first. You say you want conversation even as you remove half the dialogue. This is of course not a solution at all.
Brent, Jessica, and Lauren,As an onlooker to this discussion, I am baffled by your belief that the appropriate way to initiate a real conversation is by destroying the words of others. Destructive actions are not a move towards constructive engagement. They are not a move towards change, but rather a return to the status quo. Could your words and actions not have stood on their own without the need to erase the words and actions of others?It is not up to you to decide whether your actions were an act of silencing. It is up to those who spoke in the first place.I hope that you will reflect on the message that you have sent by doing this. Although education through workshops and ally training is a worthy goal, such events will lack credibility if they're linked to actions like these.
Jessica, I'm shocked and appalled that your idea of "creating a conversation" involves ripping down the THIS protest followed by claims that you plan to organize workshops.In one of your earlier comments on this blog regarding this irresponsible action on the part of you, Brent and Lauren, you stated that "we decided enough is enough."Who gave you the right to decide how much is enough? What staggering egotism made you decide that silencing the protest was the proper grounds on which to build "real conversations"?To use the vernacular of my home place, just who the hell do you think you are, and who 'lected you head of the range-mints committee regarding how protest will be conducted and race will be discussed, at U of M or elsewhere?These students who were apparently so confused...did they read the essays provided on the walls? Did they Google the concepts that were so confusing that the only thing you saw as a right or necessary path to correct their confusion was to destroy someone else's art and silence the voices of many people who contributed their words and their time to this project? Are these poor, confused benighted souls kindergarteners, or university students? By this stage of the operation, people are supposed to have developed enough skills to know where information can be found when a new topic is broached or an unfamiliar subject comes up. You make them sound like newborn kittens menaced by a neighborhood dog instead of adults processing visual art created as a protest action, which may have used concepts unfamiliar to the viewer.I'm willing to bet the contents of my savings account, right at this moment, that U of M's library contains plenty of resources that could have been used for these poor widdle benighted students whose pain and confusion was so great that you just had to bravely call an end to this nonviolent visual protest in order to help them "unpack their awareness". By any means necessary, amirite, amirite?You say you don't claim to be right. You considered yourself and your stance "right" enough to say and act upon your "enough is enough" protestations. I am disgusted that following that action you then come here, to THIS' space, and co-opt their demands (yes, some of us read the open letter and second open letter, and thanks to the Internet can refer back to it even now that you ripped it down) and claim that you are part of the solution?You need to stop talking and start listening; the only reason for you to currently open your mouth regarding THIS is to apologize for your wanton destruction and silencing of the project. Any statement you make claiming to be part of a solution is going to be stained with your actions and your dissembling regarding those actions. As far as I know, these workshops that you claim as part of an attempt to create conversation? Haven't developed yet, considering that the program has not yet even met with the office of equity and diversity. Co-opting previously planned events like Tim Wise's visit as if they are part of your noble contribution to a conversation about THIS isn't just hypocritical; it's a lie, just like your lie about attempting to recycle the materials you stuffed in the trash, just like your lie about not claiming expertise when you did just that in deciding without benefit of anything but your decision that "enough was enough" and the only solution was to destroy the THIS protest, so that these poor confused students could feel safe again. With never a thought for the feelings and safety of those who put their personal lives and careers on the line to create and sustain it.Your actions and the mealy mouthed lying words that follow them sicken and disgust me. Enough is enough, Jessica. Enough is enough. Enough bullshit and lies and dissembling and saying you're part of the solution when your solution is "shut up, you don't matter nearly as much as these poor people who were so confused by your pain." THIS left up critical statements regarding the project, because they have shown intellectual honesty. You can't even show regular type.Since this is the internet and not the Barker walls where you've chosen to put these statements, I can't rip down your words and crumple them into a ball and put them into a garbage bag for you to haul away (while piously telling the internet that I tried to recycle them before you and your friends showed up) but dammit, I really wish I could. And even if I did, I don't think you'd get what a grave wrong you've been a part of here...because your ill-thought-out and harmful words don't have 1/10th of the effort behind them that the THIS project did, so I don't know if that kind of demonstration of tit for tat would even have an effect on you.Think about it. Stop claiming to be a part of the solution and start figuring out how to make amends. Any person who calls themselves an artist should be ashamed to have collaborated with silencing and the destruction of art as you have done.You owe me some words, Jessica. You took mine off the windows. You owe a lot of us some words. I wonder if you realize just how many of us you've done this to, outside your program.I wonder if you give a shit, because I see absolutely no sign that you do.Yours in disgust and anger,Elizabeth
Our attempt to create conversation includes a series of workshops and ally trainingI would suggest inviting someone from your University's office of diversity, or one of the campus groups for students of color, to run these workshops, rather than attempting to have white students or faculty run them. If you don't have an office of diversity, or campus groups for students of color, I would hope you would take that as a sign that there needs to be a systemic change. I'm an alumna of Indiana University. We have a tradition of NOT silencing protests--even ones that students may initially find confusing or distressing--in the way that you and your fellow students have chosen to silence this one. I believe that all students at my university have benefited from the conversations that resulted--conversations led by people of color. You and your professors may be interested in reading about IU's VP for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs and the initiatives his office handles.
Jessica, why is it that your "real conversations" have involved tearing down the words and images of People of Color? Why are their conversations not real and yours are? Why are your real solutions all about what white people think and feel about racism? Dealing with white privilege and learning how to be a good ally is really important stuff. Destroying an existing demonstration is really fucking shitty ally work. It's a huge example of white privilege to think that you as a white person know best how to talk about racism. Seriously, are you fucking kidding me? I've been supporting THIS from afar and reading about how you ripped it to shreds made me start to cry. I've been doing anti-racism and anti-opppresion work for years and what you just did is self righteous and obnoxious. It is a fucking attack. How dare you decide to spend a few hours destroying a conversation that has taken over a month to put together? You just spat upon hours and hours of research, time and effort. You just shit canned the cost of materials, and the emotions of people who put this together.What the motherfucking hell is wrong with you? I recognize this isn't nicely composed academic language but I don't give a flying fuck. This isn't some philosophical points to spout off in a discussion section. THIS IS OUR FUCKING LIVES.
Jessica: Why do you think it is your place to decide what is and is not a "real" conversation?Brent: How does the *action* of removing the words of the This protest work to further (I refuse to use your term "propel") anti-racism activism?Lauren: How is social justice served by the privileged asserting that conversation is only "purposeful" when it takes place under the aegis of the privileged?Jessica, Brent, Lauren: Do you know what white privilege is? Have you taken the time to examine yours? Did you think about your privilege before you removed the This protest? Are you struggling to answer those questions? Do you believe it is the responsibility and duty of a university to equip its students and staff with the values listed in the second open letter: respect for diversity, assurance of safety, recognition of inequality, appreciation for dissent, commitment to social justice, eagerness to learn, trust, honesty and the dismantling of hierarchy? Do you see how those values bear on the previous questions I have asked you? Can you see how the University of Minnesota has failed you then? Can you by extension see how it has failed students of color, who must think about race and racism long before they are of college-age?
Dearest #16. You know what I'm sick of? RACISM. I'm also sick of white people using scare quotes around their race in an attempt to deny reality. I'm sick of white people sharing how difficult racism is when it is A FUCKING BAZILLION TIMES WORSE FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR.Get the fuck over yourself. And actually read some Tim Wise. He is a well known anti-racist activist and doesn't pull bullshit like pretending he's not really white, or declaring racism too difficult to talk about.
People from all over the world are watching this protest and the reaction to it.Jessica, Brent and Lauren - It is ridiculous to suggest that conversation can only begin once you have torn down the words of those you claim you wish to speak with. Sincerely,J Woods, Australia
Last time I checked, neither "supporting social justice activism" nor "furthering conversation and action" involved tearing down the very words that contained the basic tenants of doing either of those things. Julia W.
I’d like to respond to the previous posts responding to the removal of the words from the walls. It may be my last comment on the matter. 1. You don’t have enough context (which is partly our fault—and by “our” I mean Jessica, Brent, and Lauren).2. No one acted under any direction from any office or person.3. Jessica’s words should not make her the sole person to attack. The actions were taken by all persons present. Our histories are erased and excluded from this dialogue.4. There was and continues to be no ring leader in our group. I will personally ask the comments to be driven toward me as much as Jessica or Lauren. To single one person out is not fair in this case; Jessica was merely the first person to respond and write. Brent
@ Brent, 38:You're right. Consider me disgusted and ashamed of all of you.
It is abundantly clear that most of the comments on this blog were left by outsiders with absolutely no clue about what has happened in the barker and why. Everyone has their own personal axe to grind and they have been more than willing to jump on THIS. Y'all are a bunch of fools!!!Jessica, Brent, and Lauren are individuals who do understand completely, and have witnessed first hand what was happening in their program. The truth is none of the protestors are anonymous--everyone knows who they are---and any other department would have arrested them, expelled them, and prosecuted them for harassment, vandalism, disruption, and reckless disregard for public safety. The Dance Administrators of course are infinitely more compassionate than most, and have chosen not to proceed with that option.The department has tried repeatedly to work through the issues with the students, and have met only resistance. Protesters created a hostile environment and then refused to come together to discuss next steps or work towards a viable solution. Until of course their latest un-informed manifesto!I whole heartedly agree Enough is Enough!! Jessica, Brent, and Lauren were gentle and caring, they do understand what needs to happen to open the channels for dialogue and they did exactly what needed to be done. How dare you offer recommendations or attacks without knowing the truth. Brent, Jessica, and Lauren showed compassion and understanding for their classmates, they understand the complex issues, they are part of the program!!! The THIS protest silenced everyone in the building, allies and critics were attacked with equal vigor, everyone was feeling hurt and betrayed an no progress was being made to heal, or to actually work through the issues. The postings were divisive-- they were not reaching people. Taking the protest down was the right thing to do, and they were the right people to do it because they do understand privilege and power far more than the protesters or any of the rest of you busybody dumb asses, because they actually showed up for the classes and sessions taught by world class faculty like "the director"--who happens to be a woman of color--who supported the protest until it turned into a vicious harassment!! All of you people "watching from the outside" need to back the fuck off, shut the fuck up, and go buy yourselves a clue!!! signed Gina--who is entirely informed and knows the story from all sides.
@ Brent, 38, again, because I let my disgust get the better of me:Jessica gets to take the brunt of her words. It was she who said "we decided enough was enough". If you want to sign onto those words, feel free - I will be no less disgusted by and ashamed of the actions and the reasoning you're signing onto.How about instead of threatening a flounce, you respond to these comments with something other than telling us we lack sufficient context, denying that your association with the administration had anything to do with your actions, and instructing us as to who it is appropriate for us to respond to and how? (Thanks, by the way. I know I generally seek out the preferred form of address of people I consider to be acting disgracefully before I respond to their actions. It's important to me to meet the requests of the wrongdoer rather than responding in whatever way I see fit.)Because there's not a single acknowledgement of the comments there other than to tell us that y'all weren't acting under orders and we lack context. While you take responsibility for that - you don't provide whatever context you feel is SO VITAL for those of us who are here expressing pain and anger at the silencing of THIS and the wrongheaded, racist, silencing comments of your compatriot regarding your defacement of the protest.You just told us we were ignorant, asked to have comments directed at you, and indicated you weren't interested in a conversation ("may be my last comment"). Which is funny, because you're taking responsibility for what Jessica said, which indicated that y'all are totally open to conversation (at least, conversation that starts with y'all setting the terms and silencing the protest.)So which is it? Are you ready to discuss this, or are you done?
You lunatics! What part of 'lets talk' begins with 'let me just NOT hear and make sure other people don't hear you'. Or are you saying that 'we heard you but this makes us uncomfortable so we shall remove it and then do something about it', when the whole point of this protest is that the 'something to be done' IS TO HEAR IT. That is the FIRST most basic step that is required, and you FLUNKED IT. Because all you 'hear' in THIS protest is that 'you, Brent, Jessica, and Lauren as students of the Program, are responsible, that by act or omission, YOU have done wrong.' And so your reaction is not to become 'right' but to give the appearance of 'rightness'. In order to do this, you use two approaches. First, you make that which shows up your 'wrongness' disappear (do you remember what Maybelle did to the 'nigger' in 'To kill a Mockingbird' Jessica?) as YOU did by tearing down those words telling you that YOU have participated in creating a place of institutionalized privilege. Secondly, you declare an intent to organize workshops to deal with this problem (which for the record, was already demanded in those words you tore down) . EYEWASH. The real problem was staring you in the face (racism in the Department), and you couldn't handle it, so you tore it, (the expression of such a problem) down.Now you think that by going to a 'workshop' where they will teach you how to deal with racism and YOUR white privilege in the _abstract_, and by 'encouraging' other people to take part in this exercise, you can fool people into thinking that you are part of the solution (removing racism IN the Department). Well, my lunatics, I'm sorry but you can't. I don't even know if you've managed to fool yourself into thinking that you are.Face THIS fact, that THIS, WAS calling you to action, and that you did not have the stomach for it, and so you took the easier way out, and destroyed that which asked you to become a better human being, because you couldn't face that fact that you were not, already, the savior of mankind.-Avip.s I would like to explain the usage of the term lunatics here; it is not meant to 'privilege perfection' by demeaning in any manner those persons who are mentally challenged. It is used here simply because in my humble opinion, to state your objectives to be one thing (engage in real dialogue), and do something manifestly OPPOSED to those objectives (destroy the opening statements of said dialogue), is a prerogative of the insane. It is not something a sane person does. Thus, by the use of this term I only intend to bring out the striking similarity between acts which would normally be termed insane and these acts of yours, Madam Jessica, Lauren, and Sir Brent. Do you hear me! Come back to sanity!p.p.s. Please feel free to put up these words in the Barker, or anywhere else they may prove useful. To you, the Protesters, I say don't give in and fall prey to the despair that seeing such acts of cowardice must provoke. They are not the truth; YOU ARE. THIS IS.
Jessica, Brent, and LaurenDid you stop to think about how you would feel if someone took some work of yours and destroyed it simply because they did not want it to be there?Just that. Aside from the racism and everything else. Did it have to be destroyed? Could you not have put up some material that 'unpacked' the original material? I don't understand, what was in those words which hit you so hard?
Gina,Claims to omniscience are usually considered a warning sign.If the department administration is so clearly right, why are you afraid of the judgement of outsiders?
@ Gina, 40:If you're so informed, why do you think telling people to "back the fuck off and shut the fuck up" - while calling the protesters uninformed - and referring to supporters as "busybody dumb asses" is a.) helpful; b.) not silencing; c.) appropriate or d.) not dripping with privilege?No one needs your permission to form an opinion, Gina. I know that may be hard for you to understand. THIS didn't need your permission to protest, and those of us commenting out here in Internet-land don't need your permission to speak about the destruction of the protest, nor are we required to shut the fuck up when told so by you. U of M's faculty doesn't have a monopoly on teaching people what privilege and power are, so the fact that we didn't attend the same sessions as those who destroyed the protest is irrelevant.I am curious, however. Where have you been all this time while commenting was open on this blog? In class? Because I don't see you anywhere else here commenting...and know comments haven't been deleted...so I'm not sure how words on a wall silenced your voice up until their removal, which magically freed you to come here and waste a lot of exclamation points calling me and others "dumb asses".Sincerely,Elizabeth
I apologize for my lateness in replying.Here are some of my responses to the earlier comments:Julia wrote: "how you ripped it to shreds made me start to cry." - First of all we did not rip anything into shreds. Everything we could reach was taken down with the utmost of care. What we could not reach, were the only pieces that had been torn.Liss wrote: "Brent: How does the *action* of removing the words of the This protest work to further (I refuse to use your term "propel") anti-racism activism?" - Many of the students in the dance building (white and of color) felt silenced by the words and the tone of the words on the walls. Some who I have talked to felt that the hostile environment the words created was not conducive to conversations. - "Lauren: How is social justice served by the privileged asserting that conversation is only "purposeful" when it takes place under the aegis of the privileged?" - You may not know this, because the THIS creators have chosen to be anonymous, but in many respects they are some of the most privileged students in our program...privilege doesn't always come in the form of skin color. Because of this, the issue of race and white privilege that the protest claims to be about has, in my opinion, been muddled. And as far as the other questions you posed, yes, we did and continue to examine our various levels of privilege. That is a life long examination for all activists.To everyone who attacks our attempts to provide workshop and ally training, which in my opinion seems to be a step forward, what would YOU do instead? It's easy to say what we're trying to do doesn't help...but I would like to see what it is that YOU would offer.-Lauren
Gina has been here all along, Gina does know what is going on. The protesters themselves said "this is not about race" this is about power. I tell you outsiders to back the fuck off because you are clueless baffoons looking for a fight. You have no idea who the faculty are and you have no clue that they protest power and have never identified themselves as students of color and have in fact resisted being "labeled" or "racialized" only wanting to take classes in colonized forms, never supporting or acknowledging any of the faculty of color, The department is likely the least racist on this campus. The people being silenced in this protests are the ones who have been doing real anti racist work their entire lives. Students are hurt and this has blown up into something event the protesters never intended. Yes I tell you to shut the fuck up, and I might add that you should kiss my black ass on top of it.
Hey, hey! I gotta ask this question, Brent, Jessica, Lauren and Gina!I hear you talk a lot about how "outsiders" don't get what's happening, don't understand the context of the administrations actions, and question the rights of "outsiders" who question your attempts to legitimize the silencing of this protest......and I wanna know how this is different from say, um, oh, I don't know...The statements of my country's political leaders when they complain about "outsiders" who complain about them beating the shit out of protesters, threatening arrest to dissenters, refusing licenses and suspending media sources that are critical of their (mis)rule, and adopting more racist and reactionary attitudes to appease their grassroots....Hey, I know what the difference is! It's a matter of scale, because your country made it illegal to threaten the lives of protesters and beat them and arrest them without trial.When it comes to kind? Same story la, babe. No difference.
THIS will not be solved online. THIS will not come close to addressing the multiple layers of issues by posting valuable information and facts on walls without facilitating honest discussion. THIS is beyond the walls of the Barker. THIS is more than a Dance Department issue at one university. THIS is personal. THIS is institutional. THIS is systemic. THIS must be addressed face-to-face. THIS is not a solution. THIS is moving an important discussion and learning experience into an endless spiral of emptiness that accomplishes one thing...THIS further divides.PJ
I'm a student at the University in the dance program. And I've NEVER heard of this person GINA. From what I've found out, she is an employee of the director, and not even a student of the dance program? How is it that I spend my entire day in this program without ever seeing this person who supposedly knows every single student's opinion? I find this ridiculous.
No one claims to know every single student's opinion.
to #51,I'm trying to find the comment and I do remember clearly this Gina person claiming 'omniscience'... I know I'm not imagining things because Rachael on Comment 44 has referenced to it. I doubt the site deleted it. #50 Anonymous
Late this past Sunday evening I heard that there were four individuals removing THIS from the walls of the Barker. Four friends and I went to the Barker, which was locked, were denied entrance by those removing the protest, but were let in by another student who was rehearsing in the lobby. The claim that postings were taken down “with the utmost of care” is ridiculous. Taken down with the utmost of care perhaps, but then crammed into the trash where we found them. Or maybe it was the recycling…it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter how things were taken down. The point is that they were taken down. My friends and I retrieved what was discarded and have it in our possession.An interesting note here is that the five of us who went to witness the taking down of THIS have now all been accused of being behind the protest. First of all, concern about the destruction of the protest does not mean that we were involved in it’s creation. Secondly, to me, these accusations feel more like blame. The protesters have been vilified, as well as anyone who shows support.RS
PJ,I am amazed at all of the aggressive assertions that THIS is divisive or unproductive or somehow obfuscates "the REAL issues".Why in hell would anybody engage in a protest -- well knowing that they would then risk their academic careers and futures as well as relationships within the program -- unless they ALREADY FELT the situation was divisive and important?Your framing the protest as something that moves the issue into "emptiness" assumes that everybody felt safe to talk about racialized issues to begin with. Which is clearly not the case.
#50 Anonymous,Gina claims in her comment to be "entirely informed" and to know the situation "from all sides".Something I find infinitely ridiculous, since she's also affronted that the protesters aren't more grateful they haven't been arrested or expelled. Heaven knows that's the PROPER way to deal with social dissent! They should be happy that they're only being punished through silencing and pressure and hostility!! What compassion the department has shown indeed!
RSWhat was the point of that horribly articulated and contradictory first paragraph?
Hello,I am stunned by the direction that these blog comments has gone. I posted before (#3) and have been keeping up with the blog and the protest since the beginning.I understand that folks have different reactions to the most recent events of the protest materials being taken down. And I respect the fact that there are disagreements about the motive for Brent, Lauren, and Jessica choosing their course of action. If my opinion matters at all, and if I am to play into the hands of identity politics and out my subjectivities, then as a student of color at the U of M who has taken courses in the Dept ever since I started here, I was admittedly relieved to see the materials taken down. I also salute Brent, Jessica, and Lauren for identifying themselves so selflessly when many allies like them and POC like me support their intentions behind the scenes, so to speak: clearly, in doing so, they are opening themselves up for personal attacks. There is something very problematic about these attacks that are appearing on this blog. On a personal level, I know at least two of the three folks, and they are two of the biggest allies to POC that I know at the University of Minnesota. They are theoretically nuanced in their intellectual understandings of race and power, super powerhouse critical thinkers in their own right, and deeply invested in exploring anti-oppressive frameworks with respect to all minoritized subjectivities. I am aware of their contributions to dance theory and the dance community at large.The THIS protest has left me deeply uncomfortable and very unsure of where this turn to protesting comes from. I am deeply invested in the exploratory CONCEPTS espoused in the protest, but I also question a number of other things, such as its execution and motivations. But perhaps I disagree even with what the THIS protest does with the concepts: I am theoretically at odds with the binary construction of power that the THIS protest materials promote. Ya'll, I get that the THIS protesters have felt isolated in many respects (I have, too, in my experience as a student), but there are just too many developments and factors in the course of this protest that have made me question THIS. As such, I have made the careful decision to not support the protest. Still, regardless of my take on the protest, what happens if we think about next steps from here? I suggest that the responses move beyond personal attacks, and look at what this protest has evoked up to this point.Further, I would instead like to spend my time examining the second open letter, now that THIS has better articulated the protesters' demands. I have to admit that because I am so aware of the things that are being taught in the non-technique dance curricula, the thought of there being diversity training from the Office of Equity and Diversity (cannot remember the name) in which faculty have to learn about Race 101, provokes a real, "HUH?" and "NO WAY!" in me, with respect to the idea of a faculty POC having to learn about race as a social construction, etc, etc, when race and power come through in their lives on a daily basis, too. I am going to go back to working on a paper right now, which deeply engages in these anti-oppressive frameworks that THIS seeks to promote. In the meantime, I hope that I get to visit a blog site in the future that will become a space for productive discussion, instead of one for personal attacks.
...GLAD IT'S DOWN from a POC dissenterI recall weeks ago seeing the protest display and initially thinking it was a class project about privilege awareness but then appreciating it as a vehicle of protest after figuring out what it was. However, (and I'll identify myself as a man of color, visitor to Barker not department member or enrolled student) I strongly dislike the fact that to any onlooker not familiar with the protest, I as a person of color, inside of Barker appear to be a possible proponent of THIS. Again, kudos, for being well organized and creative in your very unconventional methods. Unfortunately, whether by design or serendipity...the anonymous nature of your protest COOPTS EVERY BODY OF COLOR WALKING INTO BARKER unless the individual makes it a conscious point to say they disagree. I'm sorry but THIS does not represent the "silent majority" of people of color. I agree with many of the ideals you have enumerated but I am NOT with you in your efforts. I think the original "you can't your wash race off" sign from the mens room belies the "with us or against us" nature of your approach. No I certainly can't wash my race off and I'm glad that I can't.
I am not surprised that you have never heard of me. I am one of the many women of color who have been rehearsing in Barker almost daily for the past 6 years. We have gone from being unwelcomed pests to being confronted by students/faculty/and staff with polite "oh you must be lost, because you clearly don't belong here" comments. Now it seems that we are simply invisible, ignored, irrelevant. I must say that I cheered for the "THIS" protest, I felt that finally students were coming to a level of awareness about race and privilege. I acknowledged that students were bringing forward some really important issues, and I supported plans to implement lasting change within the department. I recognized that students needed to be the leaders in THIS, so I witnessed and appreciated the protest from the sidelines. Then the protest turned to harassment, THIS resorted to personal attacks on the faculty of color within the department. Every effort to move forward with conflict resolution, dialog, and support was met with stronger and stronger personal attacks. Efforts from faculty and University administrators have been silenced, you observers only get one side of this multifaceted story and you choose to assume that the protesters are infallible. It is very true that the student code of conduct has been violated, and that “The Director” has chosen not to act on those violations. I am not implying that students should be expelled, I am saying that any other department on this campus would have had no qualms about immediately removing the postings and immediately sanctioning the students involved. That didn’t happen in Barker. In fact, the protest was encouraged to continue. I do know Brent and Jessica, I know many of the faculty, and I know many of the Dance majors (I never claimed to know all) So I have witnessed multiple perspectives. Some of the students have altruistic intentions, and some have personal agendas. The people who could have benefited most from THIS were only getting angry for having it shoved in their faces. Teaching about Privilege and Power is always difficult because individuals have varying levels of awareness and development. Sometimes you really do have to meet people where they’re at, and help them progress to the next level. Recognizing that, some students and Alumni chose to remove the postings in an attempt to re-engage those who had completely shut down and resisted learning about their own biases and privilege. I know that Jessica and Brent agonized about removing THIS. They knew there would be backlash because of their “whiteness.” They never identified individuals involved, they never implied that the individuals who showed up on Sunday night were responsible for the postings. There are security cameras all over the building anyway, but it is a very small department and there has never been any doubt about the identities of the masked avengers, no one needed to tell on them.I find it curious that The Director (who is not my employer but is a dear friend) continues to face personal attacks. She is the first woman of color to hold that position and has been director for less than a year. She was in fact beaming with pride about the awakening that seemed to be happening in the students. Her pride was met with pointed attacks. I ask why now? Why is it appropriate to smear the director of color who has worked for so long to implement real change in the department. She was just making headway. Implementing systemic change long before your protest. Forming academic relationships with the African American Studies department, creating an African dance track, recruiting and hiring more faculty of color, Implementing stronger recruitment standards to ensure a diverse student body. Why did you wait till now? So yes, I have been around for a long time, I have made several anonymous comments on THIS blog, I chose to stop being anonymous when I saw the vicious backlash Jessica and Brent were experiencing. For those of you outsiders supporting THIS, it is important for you to know that the dance department on this campus is one of the most progressive programs in the country. There are several faculty members with long histories of focusing on Social Justice, and students who resisted recognizing their own racialized bodies until their feelings were hurt by a casting choice. If having the ability to choose when and where to recognize your own racial identity isn’t the ultimate example of individuals “dripping with privilege” I don’t know what is. Ya’ll can continue to attack my grammar and my person, and ignore the issues, I’m fine with that. Bring it on. I--a radical activist of color--continue to stand by Brent Jessica and Lauren. no longer anonymous, Gina
If Jessica Brent and Lauren believed that their action would've brought 'real' conversation, Jessica Brent and Lauren could've at least tried to preserve the protest for future archiving for those who wanted it, instead of trashing it.Real conversation only happens when you respect other voices. No wonder people are angry.
I think that THIS started approximately Feb. 11 and was up until approximately March 30, almost 50 days. At several points the "department administration" acknowledged the value of the dialogue both in e-mail and verbal forms. The protest was taken down by students acting without prompting or pressure from the administration. NewbieI am still trying to figure out how this department tried to "silence" this protest at any time during the event or now? I read an increasing amount of foul language and personal attacks, but who is addressing the actual actions that are taking place. Hmmmm.
I am saddened by the personal attacks. I believe Right and wrong can never be defined and can be argued until we are blue in the face. I also believe that regardless of if the THIS protest is still present in the space it can still be present in our thoughts and actions. I do not want to silence the THIS protest by covering it with talk of who did what, where, and how, but rather focus on continuing to learn more about the protest and life beyond THIS. I may not be happy it is gone but my memory of it is strong and I will not let motivation to learn and act fade with memory or be distracted. This is not to say lets not examine our actions and see how we react to being in tough situations or confronted by race, our actions speak louder than our words. This maybe naive, but I wish this site could be a learning space, and a space for discussion about perceptions, ideas about hierarchies, but how others have dismantled them or even the benefit of them, discussing what race is and the concept of white privilege, and maybe the distinction of color and concept. Newbie #2
I'm not related to the dance program in any way, nor am I a dancer. I found this site through a link on a friend's LiveJournal and have been following it with interest.From the information I have, both from posts and comments, I cannot see any way that an independent group of students tearing down the work of another independent group of students could possibly contribute to productive conversation.I'm also bemused by white students claiming that they felt "oppressed" and "silenced" by the THIS postings. White people (like myself) are often afraid of non-white people; indeed, we are taught to be afraid, teachings that go back to the days when non-whites were seen as savages and that have often been used to justify brutal methods of controlling non-white populations. I hear a lot of that fear in these claims of oppression and silencing. All that the "us" group has done, though, is speak. That's it. If any expression of discomfort is oppressive, if any desire to be heard is silencing, then that can only indicate a status quo where non-whites are expected to keep their mouths shut. How can that possibly be acceptable to anyone?If it is so shocking to hear a non-white voice, then I would urge my fellow white people to be shocked. Be shocked that you don't hear these voices more often. Be shocked at your own loudness while students of color have been silent. Be shocked at your assumption that their silence meant they were comfortable and happy. Be shocked that your fellow students have been uncomfortable for weeks, months, years, and you had no idea. Be shocked that all it takes is a handful of raised non-white voices to make you so scared that you go into a space under cover of night to tear down someone else's artwork, someone else's words. Be shocked at yourselves, at the atmosphere that made this necessary, at your claims of oppression and silencing just because someone dared a single time to be as loud and outspoken as you are every day.Then understand that your shock points to a broken system, a system where only some people get voices, and go and fix it. Co-opt that "silencing" by choosing to keep quiet and listen and learn. Undermine that "oppression" by understanding that the oppressive atmosphere has been there all along; it just wasn't pointed at you. The oppressive atmosphere is caused by racism, not by people pointing out racism. Instead of damning the messengers, wake up to the way things have been all along. They have invited you into their world. It is a hard, painful place to be. Are you going to whine about how hard it is for you to endure a month of it, or are you going to start listening to the people who have to endure it throughout their lives?"Us", I salute you and support you. Best of luck in your fight to be seen and heard and respected as you deserve.
Regardless if their actions were “right” or “wrong” I commend Jessica, Brent and Lauren for taking responsibility for what they have done. Others are entitled to not agree with what they did but is it necessary to personally attack them?How is attacking them helping the issues/concerns raised by THIS?Who are the people personally attacking them…the THIS protesters, students, faculty, outsiders? If it is the THIS protesters attacking them, I ask why? If you want to help create a solution why not help create constructive dialogue around the removal of THIS? Communication is the key to success. Get back to the issues.
To rosefox --Thank you for your thoughts. Your insight and compassion has, for me, been incredibly inspiring, and has helped me decide to enter these forums in the spirit of peace and love -- I do this because I want you to know how much your words have comforted my heart -- I have debated restlessly since this blog went up, weighing the merits of posting on here. After the brash remarks by Pope Lizbet and others appeared, I resigned myself to silence. I knew that whatever I wanted to say was going to be met with more conflict and more animosity, so why bother? Thanks for shaking me out of my complacency.If I sound patronizing, I apologize...this is not my intent. So, in the spirit of taking action, I would like to bring to light an aspect of the THIS protest that may cause you to adjust your opinion slightly – [this information has already been brought up, but I feel that it is integral to repeat it, as it will help the people who aren’t involved directly to understand the complexities that have invariably been obfuscated on this blog and within our building since the beginning of the protest].-- Since I know, and have known, the creators and supporters of THIS throughout my time here at the U of M, I can -- with utmost assuredness -- say that they have been given, [by their faculty, and fellow students] just as much opportunity to speak their frustrations and air their grievances in a 'loud' manner as anyone else. Oftentimes, they are the 'loudest' voices amongst our student body -- this is not to say that this is good or bad, just that it is TRUE.What's more, most of the students who are helping staunchly support THIS are white and enjoy specific privileges that the majority of the dance department will never experience at this point in their dance careers. Their entire sermon based around 'power and privilege' has been completely negated by the simple fact that they, themselves, take their power and privileges for granted in the EXACT same way they accuse us of doing. Of course, you can't see this since you've not had the pleasure of inhabiting the dance building for hours on end during this semester -- but these students [who, yes, I am SHOCKED to discover have been harboring real pain and consternation] have mislead everyone on this blog into thinking that they have been an oppressed party in our dance department -- this is hardly the case. Again, I don't mean to sound patronizing in any way, shape, or form to you or the other people who have gained interest through secondary sources -- I just want to try and further clarify the nature of the situation for you to better inform you that most students of color in the department don't align themselves with the protest at all, nor do they feel like their voices needed 'saving' in the first place. Thanks for listening. Peace and love, Charles------------------To Pope Lizbet, Rachael, and Avi --To be truthful, I understand your rage and shock all too well -- when the THIS project first posted its 'open' letter to the dance department, I remember feeling my heart filled with a barely containable rage -- reading their sophistic bulls&^& instantly filled me with a strong need to throttle the creators and to berate them to their FACES in an unwarranted rage!!!But -- and this is after a few breaths, and a couple cigarettes -- I checked into REALITY, where I realized that violence begetting violence [whether verbal or physical] only embroils the conflict by creating more hostility. Whether or not I wanted to scream myself hoarse was beside the point -- it wasn't my position to treat the creators and supporters of THIS like they were stupid children, nor demean their personages [no matter how detestable they may have seemed to me] in a public forum. By removing the display, Jessica, Brent, and Lauren have not acted in a violent manner -- they, as prominent members of the dance community, have tried very hard to engage in a respectful conversation with THIS and its supporters. They don't want THIS to be a problem anymore, they want the students involved, the REAL BODIES, to be part of the solution. Jessica and Brent have both been extreme advocates for social awareness and equality, fighting against the internal web of politics that, unfortunately, calls the shots at the University of Minnesota Unfortunately, the creators and supporters of THIS have only exacerbated the problems they are trying to expose. THIS has placed unwarranted prejudicial burdens on the faculty -- Racheal, you mention that 'claims to omniscience' should be considered as a 'warning sign' -- these students have displayed 'claims to omniscience' through their open letters to the department -- claiming to 'know' how our faculty of color feel, when they cannot even BEGIN to fathom the experiences our FOC have endured to come here and teach us at the University of Minnesota. Has any student involved in THIS had to fight for survival in a country torn apart by war? Has any student involved in THIS had to worry about feeding and caring for their children while creating art that could possibly lead to their extermination?No....they haven't. And yet they profess an ultimate understanding of the intricate lives that dwell and teach within our building. This, in my opinion, is an ACTUAL 'warning sign' that THIS had not fully realized the gravity of their accusations, and were speaking from their bruised egos, instead of truly oppressed hearts.THIS has not been silenced -- it has been displayed for an interminably long time, and Jessica, Brent, and Lauren 'tore' it down because its creators weren’t speaking when IT WAS UP – keeping their long-winded manifesto’s up on the wall had done nothing to actually PROGRESS their DEMANDS from theory into praxis. Jessica, Brent, and Lauren, unlike the creators of THIS, have all taken RESPONSIBILITY for their actions -- they knew that by posting their actions HERE [with a name and persona you could attach their actions to] they would most likely be admonished for their decision. But -- and I AM pointing a finger at you Pope Lizbet -- your pedantic and inflammatory remarks are WILDLY OFF-BASE and, what's worse, come from a position that is informed ONLY by the statements made on this blog and the words that have been posted in the Barker. You unabashedly support THIS without having engaged in any real action to get at the heart of the matter. Instead, you use your own privilege as an anonymous internet guise [and possible Barker visitor] to wickedly abuse students who are actually taking action.I would urge you to consider that by referring to the upcoming workshops -- that not only Jessica and Brent, but REAL organizations and colleagues have been working hard to promote -- as 'lies', you disrespect the work being done by REAL social activists in our community. The workshops are happening whether you think Jessica or Brent have used them opportunistically, and I know of many students that are asking more and more about what they can do to promote these workshops and meetings so that not just people who have been monitoring THIS can attend, but the greater community as a whole. Here's one I'd especially recommend for you Pope:http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=70899872527&ref=nfSo, get a grip. Take a breath, or a step back, or do whatever you need to do to calm yourself -- otherwise, you're resorting to the very same methods all of us, as proponents for equality, are fighting so hard to overcome in our ongoing development.If anyone wants to accuse me of trying to silence you, let them. I am not afraid of your judgment -- the only thing I'm afraid of is that, at the end of the year, we will have arrived at NOTHING and "ya’ll" will still be gnashing your teeth and pulling our hair, still caught in a fit of rage because paper was taken down – the paper is not the issue here – the real issue is that THIS has lost steam and now the people involved are being given the chance to actually work on their own demands for the betterment of the dance school – to create a REAL safe habitat and lifestyle.I cannot silence you as much as I cannot pull this website down, or remove the painful memories from the faculty who actively make a stand to support equality for EVERYONE, not just dancers or white people. Instead, I hope to help you adjust your opinion regarding these very personal matters so that you do not wantonly ravage this board again. Every step we take should be a step forward, and Jessica, Brent, and Lauren, took a HUGE step, one I hope you can realize was tempered with compassion and understanding, not ignorance and hate.BTW, I've been actively following the events of THIS and been making discourse surrounding its concepts since day one. If you don't believe me -- ok, well, I had hoped to have some picture evidence from the THIS blog, but my picture seems to have been taken down. Not that it matters, I don't need the snapshot to justify my words. Just know, there is no use in calling me out for 'just now' deciding to enter this multi-ringed circus.Sincerely [and I mean that as well],Charles Robison
Beautifully said Charles, Bravo!--Gina
Dear Dissenter (#58),The protest was anonymous, but it was clearly anonymous students of the program. The open letter repeatedly indicated that the speakers were students of the program. Which you are not.While it is frustrating to be suspected of doing something you have not done, why is it the fault of THIS, rather than the people suspecting you because of your skin color?
wow rachael, you don't get it
Charles,This blog is not, in fact, my only context. I am judging the faculty by their own responses to the protest, which make it pretty clear why it was needed. For example, talking about resigning is a clear silencing tactic: it says, I will only give you power when I can claim you are using it to hurt me. It says, You will all be sorry when I am gone. It says, You might be permitted to speak, but I will make your every word about my pain.The Oppression Olympics are another silencing game. It's always possible to find someone who is more oppressed. The problem with the workshops is not that they are bad or useless; it's that they were used in an attempt to respond to THIS, which they aren't. So their use as a response to THIS is disingenuous at best.If the real motive for taking down the protest were to open up space for dialogue, then throwing it into the trash was really not a good way to accomplish that. It would have been just as easy (if not easier!) to stack the pages and let them be carried away intact, _not_ in trash bags. Destroying them with "utmost care" is, well, pretty indicative. And seriously, the idea that the actions of a nonstudent employee of the director don't reflect on the director is utterly bizarre to me. The student employee is arguable, but stretching it.There are many different sources of privilege and power. Someone can lack them in one way and have them in another. Having one source of privilege does not mean that sources of oppression are negated, and vice versa.Your bringing up the idea of us claiming you are "silencing" us is a total strawman, and your own argument explains why it's so stupid. Your making that argument is nothing more than rhetorical positioning.
Rachael,Please stop talking as though you were at the barker on Sunday evening. Jessica is alumn, 1 year removed and took class with these students for years. If you are not a student here, perhaps your understanding of the internal politics are completely one-sided. Have you considered that?
Charles,I appreciate your reply, but I think you're missing several points.By removing the display, Jessica, Brent, and Lauren have not acted in a violent manner -- they, as prominent members of the dance community, have tried very hard to engage in a respectful conversation with THIS and its supporters. They don't want THIS to be a problem anymore, they want the students involved, the REAL BODIES, to be part of the solution.You seem to be saying that when some white people decided that non-white people weren't interested in having a "respectful conversation", by the white people's definition, they felt it was okay to destroy the protest artwork of the non-white people and refer to it as a "problem". That doesn't sound at all respectful to me. It sounds like an attempt to control the form of the discourse. Just because it didn't involve physical assault against persons doesn't make it a thoughtful, kind, or productive action, or even a nonviolent one; tearing apart another person's artwork is inherently violent.Has any student involved in THIS had to fight for survival in a country torn apart by war? Has any student involved in THIS had to worry about feeding and caring for their children while creating art that could possibly lead to their extermination?This is a strawman. Are you saying that people must be sufficiently oppressed before they can complain? Why do you get to decide what "sufficiently oppressed" means?I cannot silence you as much as I cannot pull this website downOf course not, but a phrase like that sounds like you would if you could. Is that really the impression you want to give?Jessica, Brent, and Lauren, took a HUGE step, one I hope you can realize was tempered with compassion and understanding, not ignorance and hate.How can one destroy another person's heartfelt statement of protest, in the middle of the night, without informing that person of their intentions, and claim to do so in a spirit of compassion and understanding? Are you really saying "We had to take your toys away for your own good, you'll understand when you're older"? How unbearably patronizing.Charles, if you're representative of white allies and activists in your program, no wonder the members of "Us" felt they had to take matters into their own hands rather than relying on your help.
@ Charles:I'll pass up your offer for workshops; as I've stated here previously, I don't live in MN. I am an Internets Person who has been watching THIS since its inception, whose words appeared in the now-destroyed THIS protest, who has read every word, including departmental responses, and viewed every image available regarding this action available online, who has sent e-mail, whose e-mail has been responded to with staggeringly ignorant replies from at least one student.I have been very angry, at very many times in my life, including now. I have witnessed public art that made me angry, protest actions that made me extremely angry, etcetera. One thing that I have never done? Removed someone's creation from a wall and thrown it in the garbage (or the recycling), and claimed that action was motivated with the desire to start a conversation. That's a conversation starter, of a sort, but the subject of conversation is fairly inevitably going to be "Why did you do that? What made you think you had the right? Don't you understand the weight and import and connotation of what you just did?" and that, sir, is the conversation which is happening here, now. With, as could be expected, quite a bit of anger behind it.If I removed every public and nonsanctioned piece of protest/political speech I ever saw to which I objected - roadside signs threatening me with hell or decrying the evil of abortion, which are frequently posted on public right of way near where I live are a good example - I would not be living my own morals. As disgusted as I am by anti-abortionists who use the public right of way to post their speech, in contravention of the laws regarding the use of said right-of-way, I don't get out of the car, pull over, and tear their signs to pieces, because it isn't right to do that. It will only entrench the idea that pro-choice individuals wish to silence pro-life thought, as well, but before that consideration, it simply is not right for me to take that act upon myself purely because of the emotions engendered in me by its existence. The state road crew (a duly constituted authority for such removal) can take that upon itself; I cannot, if I want to respect myself tomorrow.I would not, for one second, argue that the crude placards of my example represent 1/20th of the effort, both literal and artistic, put into the THIS protest. Nor would I, if I threw over my beliefs, engaged in and was caught at such an action, claim that by throwing those signs in the bin, that I was just trying to make sure we could have a *real* conversation about abortion, that people were just too upset by the signs to ensure productive discourse, etc. ad nauseam.I remain ashamed and disgusted by the acts of those who took down the protest action, destroying the materials in the process, and then framed that action as their desire to start a conversation. I hold their example up alongside THIS, which responded to without removing criticism of their project, and simply replaced any materials that were removed or defaced. I doubt sincerely that those who removed the protest materials most recently were unaware of this practice - otherwise, why expend extra effort to crumple and trash the materials, while making pious statements about your attempts to preserve the Barker walls?As an artist myself, the idea that conversations about themes that are fraught can only start when provocative/uncomfortable display of protest-through-art referencing and discussing those themes has been safely removed from sight and consigned to the trash is simply abhorrent, not to mention, well, ridiculous and contradictory. As for your "have any of the protesters..." strawman? Not biting. No one has to wait until you decide their heart is sufficiently "truly oppressed" in order to feel pain or respond to what they perceive as the source of that pain. If the THIS protesters truly misrepresented the feelings of the FOC in the open letter, then that's an area where conversation could have taken place. I don't see how the removal of the protest was necessary for that, or any other conversation, to occur. I'm not inclined to accept the assessments of THIS that come from someone who insists that these protest people are so loud in their daily lives that they must not really be oppressed enough, that their talk of racism is just a cover for bruised egos, that they're misleading us poor benighted Internet people regarding their motivations and experiences, that after all they're privileged, too, as is any university student in America, and so on, and so forth. Too bad I don't have a bingo card handy.I've had my ego bruised before, and badly. I don't think I've ever undertaken nearly 2 months of activities which could potentially result in sanctions or arrest, at considerable personal expense, merely to salve my bruised ego, which is generally soothed well enough with knowledge of other personal achievements and maybe a heart-to-heart with a friend. Generally speaking, the level of effort I've seen expended here implies that the focus of the effort is truly important and meaningful to the person investing in it. If the content of your statement about egos is, as it appears to be, "It's not racism that motivates them, they're just mad they didn't get cast" - well, that argument's old, by this stage of the operation, and stinks even more now than it did back in early days.Personally, I love how I'm brash and pedantic. I own the fact that called Jessica a liar here - and I do think that the claim that workshops are being organized with Jessica's assistance (using workshops arranged before THIS came to be as proof) as a response to THIS is spurious to the level of being a deliberate falsehood, as are her claims regarding the treatment and disposal of the protest materials - but I didn't tell anyone to kiss my ass, nor did I call anyone a "dumb ass", and while I stated that I feel Jessica's best bet is to stop talking unless what she wishes to say is an apology, I at least framed it in a manner other than than "sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up". Apparently it's only brash to use strong language if you're on the "wrong" side of the argument or using it in the direction of the "right" people.The thing I love best? That I've apparently "wantonly ravaged" this board with words. Words =/= rape and pillage, Charles. Even ones that are angry and pointed. Even ones that make you uncomfortable because they're not full of compassion and peace, what with all the anger and indignation taking up the space.Of course, that's why we're all here; someone felt threatened enough by words on a wall that "real conversations" (by the definitions of those who removed it, who are apparently arbiters of what is and is not a real conversation) couldn't ensue until those words (some of which were certainly brash, some of which were arguably pedantic) were stopped. As I said before - color me unsurprised that the first "real conversation" this removal and trashing sparked was focused on anger and resentment at the tactics of those who removed it and their idea that the protest is what was stopping "real" conversations from taking place.You've already marked me off as requiring reeducation, so here's a hint: listen to Rosefox. She understands, too, that tearing apart someone's creation as the foundation of some supposed "real conversation" is an act of violence, and unlikely to produce sweet fruit.Still disgusted,Elizabeth
It's funny, everyone assumes the protesters are POC. The protesters are anonymous and real social justice comes from all parties. Do i think taking down the materials was right? No, but i know that the real heroes that i admire whose voices and testimonies were plastered all over the walls were acting as martyrs for pet peeves and personal vendetta's. Now that they are down, they can be my heroes once more.
It strikes me that when people write entries in a blog that stretch past 250 words on a blog that either they have something important to say (an unfortunately rare situation) or they are thinking while writing (the far more common problem in the blogosphere). I still ask those who so blithely ignore the question how has this ever been silenced by the "dance administration?" Even if some individual faculty members have expressed a desire to escape what has clearly for them been a stressful circumstance, the fact remains THIS was never taken down by administrative action or pressure.
@74: "Who will rid me of this meddlesome protest?" The expressions of faculty members, formal or informal, are precisely equivalent to administrative pressure. It doesn't need to be a direct order; when systemic oppression is already in place, a mere suggestion is quite sufficient.Had the administration and individual teachers upheld THIS from the beginning, made their own efforts to address the questions it raised instead of insisting that the whistleblowers also be in charge of developing solutions and then criticizing the recommendations, and given public statements supporting the right to anonymous protest and the value of having THIS on the walls of Barker, do you really think it would have been torn down so blithely?
We seem to be arguing in circles here. Just what excatly do you, Jessica, Brent, and Lauren want to say?There does not seem to be any headway in the current conversation. One side thinks they were right to pull down the protest. The other does not. Nobody is budging. Let us try another conversation.So, Jessica, Brent and Lauren, start it! Start the conversation you said you wanted to start and tell US what you wanted to tell them. Say what you wanted to.-Avi
They have actually and it doesn't include this blog. The issues came from the Dance program and the solution needs to as well. Some of the hurt comes from the way we speak and inform one another here. We need to figure out a way to do that much better than we have before. I know some of you watch this from outside the community but unless the administration of this blog feels they would like to post updated information for you then my guess is no one else will.
First of all, Props to you. Yes, you. You reading this right now. Props to the initiators of the THIS project. Props for following it online and having no idea that there used to be a fabulous food co-op next to the Barker of that the first stall in the women's restroom makes a funny sound when flushing or any other physical knowledge of the Barbara Barker Center for Dance's existence until the THIS blog showed up, however you stumbled upon it. Props to Ananya, Carl, Diyah, Toni and all other faculty representatives noted at THIS town halls showing up with ears of support and hearts yearning to understand. Props to Jessica, Brent and Lauren who physically removed the original “US” protest materials. Props to every reader on the blog who felt this was the wrong action, or the right action or whatever. The point is, you deserve a positive acknowledgment for getting involved weather that is physical, emotional or Internet based. Why? Because it shows you care. It shows we all care about the points brought up to begin with, institutionalized and culturally generated racism, sexism, classism, body size judgments and other such social injustices. These issues, and creatively dealing with these issues did not begin on February 11 (or whenever the exact protest physically began). I won't try to change your opinion and only expect you to take me as seriously as you want others to take you. I am a one year removed alumni of this department and honestly say that I know every name of the individuals that were attending the department upon my departure (which, is arguably now every current sophomore-senior who is not a new student for the 2008-2009) and even my signing my first name, they will know me. The Barbara Barker Center for Dance was my home for four years. I knew every detail, and was even paid by the department to educate newcomers on registration policies, departmental events, happenings and encourage THIS kind of behavior. I know Jessica, Brent and Lauren better than my first cousins. I know their intentions are educated, progressive and bold. I can not claim I know who the anonymous US protests are, but they have chosen to remain anonymous, erasing their bodies/histories/judgments from me as an observer, and to many of you, which is their choice because that has obviously been an important element in their efforts. But I can say that I am not surprised that THIS happened/is happening, and that I'm proud of US for continuing conversations that our faculty so boldly engage (....most all before our physical existence in the 80's.) I moved to the East coast in the fall, and like many of you Internet followers, have been involved only for what I can experience on the world wide web. No, the all the details are not on the internet. Yes, it leaves many questions unanswered. And that's okay. That is the risk we run trying to record what can not be recorded: our bodies. I challenge blog followers to see Jessica, Brent and Lauren's actions as PART of the protest, not a silencing of the protest. Don't you see? They are ' performing' their own protest, in the same way 'us' started it, by taking action physically, with their bodies, to CONTINUE working with the issues every physical body and spirit faces on a daily basis. Yes, they physically took it down. Yes, actions speak louder than words, but they choose to put their names THEIR BODIES and their reputations and their reasons on the line, and that is an incredibly important detail in this whole thing. Didn't they make that clear? They are seeking the same answers US is, they are attempting to help address answers in their own way. Their actions need to be taken as sensitively and seriously as the original protest. They are reinventing the protest. They are evolving the protest. Don't be afraid of that people. Otherwise, it's just like a really bad high school break up. And please, for the love of all things academia, stop trying to point and re point those snarky fingers everywhere. It's hard to follow and makes this whole thing more complicated. After all, aren't we all after the same thing anyway? Peace? In Peace,Kendra
Hi, I have yet to enter this blog, but I must say that the past few weeks have been quite the journey for me as a dance major, a friend, a student, a coworker, a human being, a white woman, etc. Although I have tried my best to look at both sides of these arguments, one thing that has really bothered me is the lack of not just communication, but the lack of GOOD communication.Enough of YOU YOU YOU. I am tired of hearing YOU did this and YOU did that. I see the value in pointing out mistakes made along the way but at a certain point, one has to step forward and own up to their mistakes. One has to sit back, meditate on their actions, and have the guts to say "Yup, I screwed up." I haven't heard a lot of that lately.We will never be able to move forward as a dance program until we are able to admit that no one has acted like angels throughout the progression of the protest and the discussions surrounding it.So, I will say that I screwed up by not taking the time to check in with my fellow classmates to see if they were ok. I screwed up because I did not take the time to educate myself on my white privilege and how it may have informed my interactions with THIS. I screwed up when I did not take the time to follow up with faculty, to pressure them to take measures and respond to THIS in their classes, rather than acting like everyone could ignore it once we stepped into the classroom.I realize that I have so much more to learn.I hope that I can learn to step back and listen better to what my fellow human beings are saying around me.I don't assume to know the complexity of everyone within this whole mess. So I am not going to critique someone, unless it is to their face, and we have the time to talk about it.More face to face time, and less batting about with words.Peace Out,Molly
This is so obnoxious. you have proven nothing beyond your capacity to demonstrate that you are imbeciles!!! Giving only your own idiotic make believe story. I ask what color is the sky in your world? Asses. Liars. The department has indeed made many attempts to address your issues. Employees of Dr. Chatterjea's dance company tore down the postings?!?!?!? Dr. Chatterjea hires lots of students. She believes in developing students, she believes in supporting students, so she hires them all the time. She has in fact hired some of the "anonymous" protesters!!!! Look here assholes, if you want to play that game, If you want to name names and call people out, I could easily call out some of the "protesters", list them by name, and post their paystubs if I wanted to, Oh but of course they can anononmously decide who is an employee of Dr. Chatterjea's company and who isn't. Should we leave it up to the IRS to determine employment status? Should we post who has been paid by Dr. Chatterjea's company and for how much? Because the vast majority of us VOLUNTEER!!!!! There HAVE absolutely been attempts to workshop and dialogue on the issues brought up by these uninformed children. The protestors want to keep THIS in the limelight, Continue to make THIS a spectacle instead of making any real progress. GROW UP!!! THIS is your 15 minutes of fame and its fading fast. Enjoy it while it lasts. THIS is comprised of a bunch of spoiled brats who have never had any boundaries until they arrived on a college campus and found out that mommy and daddy can't help influence their grades. This little witch hunt is growning tiresome. Get over yourselves. Open letter to Rusty Barcelow my ass. Of course nobody want's to let the "outsiders watching" know the truth. Not safe for whom? Not safe for people who decided they were people of color in January? Not safe for people who can choose conveniently when to identify as people of color? Get real. Dr. Barcelow has been actively involved for months. She attended the first Town hall meeting. She has been in communication with Carl Flink, Ananya Chatterjea, and many other faculty in the department. As have many others in her department who have tried to offer workshops on white privilege, racism, diversity. THIS protesters cannot stay releveant if any real meaningful work comes of this so they pretend that nothing has happened. I hope someone does silence your dumb asses soon because you look like idiots. Someone needs to rescue you from yourselves and educate you before your really hurt yourselves. Do us all a favor and get lost. --Gina
Yes Rusty Barcelow was there. She arrived late, climbed to the top row of seats--did not participate in any conversations--and slept for the majority of the Town hall meeting. Yea, she'll show you lots of support.
Do you even know who Dr. Barcelow is? She was the first one in the room, we saw her go in. She was walking with a cane. Asleep? You mean when she was meeting with the facilitator in the hallway while we met in small groups? Maybe you should point that anger back at yourself as a faculty member/student/contributor to the oppression in Barker.
I'm rather amused that I'm an internet observer, rather than a U of M employee like friend Gina, and even I know her name is Dr. Barceló, not "Barcelow."Gina, the threat to post confidential information here was...probably unwise, whether or not you intend or are able to make good on it. I don't know many grown adults who threaten to post other people's pay stubs. But your employer and/or educational institution is observing this space, and you might ought to consider that while working through your anger by slinging racist slurs and threats at the protesters.Good luck to Dr. Barceló. It appears she's going to need it.
touche' Pope Lizbet--called my bluff and corrected my spelling--how clever of you.For once though, you are right on several points. I let my anger get the better of me. Idle threats are useless. Dr. Nancy "Rusty" Barcelo' absolutely deserves to have her name spelled correctly. My point--although admittedly lost in my recent tirade--was that Dr. Chatterjea hires many students to work for her dance company (a company which is not part of the university) so the argument that "employees" of the director are somehow carrying out her evil bidding is just another rediculous and erroneous accusation. I had no intention of actually posting anyones paystub, and I agree it was bad form to threaten it.It is upsetting to standby helplessly and witness a witch hunt unfairly launched at the Dance faculty. Still though, that's no excuse to be guided by anger, it was indeed bad form on my part. I apologize to everyone observing this blog. As for being watched by my employer--thankfully I am not employed by any orwellian overlords, and my employer has neither time nor inclination to care what I do or say in my free time. In fact, my passionate commitment is one of the qualities that got me into my position.Incidentally, there are several Gina's who are lucky enough to work at the University (and likely just as many Elizabeth's)interestingly--all of them are entitled to their own opinions. I hope that Dr. Barcelo' sees the merit in due diligence and thoroughly investigates all sides of this complex situation. No one is perfect, mistakes have been made, and the Dance faculty have been the first to admit that--but this is truly one department that does not deserve the labels that you have been so quick to believe in. I invite you to analyze my grammar and correct my spelling. I will continue to passionately defend the people who have been committed to anti-racist work and anti-biased education. --Gina
Community has heard -http://northmplsculture.com/
The following comment was submitted anonymously in the Support the Protest section on Sun, May 10, 2009 at 11:24 PM: I sincerely hope you realize the harm you are doing to all individuals involved in your "protest." By your actions you are irreversibly altering people's lives. I would tell you to exercise caution, but I fear it is too late. You should be ashamed of your actions. After viewing your blog I am shocked at how self serving your "protest" is.
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The following comment was submitted anonymously to the Support the Protest section on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 1:26 PM (this is the same content as comment #88 and #89, which we deleted only to fix formatting glitches. It otherwise remains unchanged): This protest is heartbreaking. Why is everyone so quick to support some and villianize others while not even fully understanding the context, or the origins of the protest? The truth is that the people who are harassed and fearful for their safety are not the student protesters but the faculty, staff, and community who have been publicly tied to the stake. Those of us who have tried to show more balance and demonstrate the full scope of the issues have been targeted, victimized and harassed. I, a woman of color, dancer, and social justice activist, have been publicly critical of THIS protest, publicly supportive of the dance faculty, and as a result I fear for my own safety, and I fear for the safety of my children because those "Anonymous" students have no qualms about aggressively outing their detractors while asking for (and receiving) support by any means necessary. When will this witch hunt end? Must we wait until someone is injured, because at this point it is a matter of when (not if) the protesters and their supporters will decide to resort to physical violence. How can this possibly be productive? So you have people from all over the world supporting you, but they don't even know what it is they are supposedly supporting. They don't even know anything about Barker, or the University of Minnesota, or the Dance faculty. Supporters, do your research before you start attacking individuals,look at what they are really doing, what they have done, what they are trying to do, the results will speak for themselves. Dr. Barcelo, Mr. Casper, How long must the faculty and staff be subjected to this universal harassment? How long must members of the dance community and individuals critical of the protest be fearful about entering the Barker center? How long will these students be permitted to continue this Witch Hunt? Do something!
The following comment was submitted by Petite Dancer to the Support the Protest section on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 4:09 PM:I am writing here today because I'm torn in two pieces. My chest feels heavy, and I'm sick to my stomach, because everywhere I turn, someone next to me is begging for support.My friends in the dance program have felt silenced and unsupported by their own faculty. They feel that they cannot reveal themselves, and the reasons for this are very unclear to me, but I feel sad and confused that they do not feel safe. I want them to feel safe.On the other hand, the faculty who have taught me how to find my voice, how to move my body, how to write about what I see in critical ways, are emotionally drained. They have tried to step back in order to hear the concerns of students, but no one has come forth to tell them what they did wrong in order to deserve THIS. They have spent COUNTLESS hours working on their own time, reflecting on what they can do to help students feel safe enough to tell them what they did wrong, meeting with others who may have resources for our department to use in order to work towards change. It is not like they have been sitting on their hands all this time.Also, it take TIME to change something. A lot of TIME. Change is not magical. It is not instant, like sending an email or a text message. And time is a beast. Things will not happen in a few weeks. They may not even happen in a year's time. People, calm down a second, shut your mouths, and open your eyes and ears. It is going to take TIME.I ask you, what is the attack on our faculty and staff accomplishing? Surely bringing down those who have fought for years to improve our dance program in terms of these matters will not improve the situation. It can only make it worse. And bringing down the faculty who have advocated for these issues within our program will not destroy the institutional racism that the calls for support have suggested. I repeat, it can only make it worse.However, I hear the concerns of the students. I am one, and I know about the power dynamics between student and faculty. It is difficult sometimes to stand against that authority and force it to change.But destroying our program from the inside is not going to get our program to where we want it to be.Oh, and all of you out there who don't have any context to what is happening inside of our HOME here at the University of Minnesota Dance Program, don't pretend like you know the entire story, because you can't possibly know. I don't even know the entire story and I'm here in the thick of it. That includes you, blog reader from whatever state or country you are from. If you haven't been here, then you don't know.All you see are pictures and words here on this blog, but you have not placed your body next to a dance major or faculty member in our building and literally felt the pain in their voice wave over your body.Are we trying to attack individuals or institutional racism? Let's focus on the goals here.
The following comment was submitted anonymously in the Support the Protest section on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 12:08 PM: I have a problem with your protest attacking the department's program specialist's actions. You conveniently have left out an important fact - there is a board that is open for student posting in the building. Your argument reads as if there is no space in the building where you can air you grievances or let your thoughts be known. This is simply untrue and to place blame on the program specialist is cowardly.I would like to post an open letter on the front doors of the White House. That doesn't mean I can or should expect that to be a reality. While she may or may not have reacted to the program in a productive way, there are rules and she was simply following them. And yes I do realize that protests must break the rules or nothing will change. I simply don't believe in this case you would have to compromise in a substantial way the point you are attempting to get across by using the board that is available for your use. Just as many people would be able to view your words if it was in the approved space.I believe your protest raises good questions and should be taken seriously. Unfortunately your latest cry of foul lacks some much needed context.I also have a problem with the semi-anonymous, passive-aggressive behavior of attacking people without using their names. Give Jessica some respect and call her by her name if you wish to attack her via this blog. Everyone involved in the program knows the people to which you refer. The use of titles seems to me like a simple tactic to garner support from outsiders. It is much easier to hate a "director" or "chair" or "program specialist" than it is to hate Ananya, Carl, or Jessica. I just wish for slightly more respect than has been shown for the people involved.
I am a racist.I am a white male, and while I do not consider myself to be a bigot, I do receive both willingly and unwillingly privilege because of my race, and that makes me a racist. It may be tough for whites to admit this, because quite frankly it is not a fun thing to realize. In fact, racism is a word that because of it's associations with bigotry, prejudice, the KKK and all their horrible acts is something that us white people try to avoid like the plague. We try to distance ourselves from that word by saying that we have friends of color, "don't see color", or support equality, but we are still racist.You may now be thinking if you are white and reading this that "racism ended in the 60's". It didn't. What ended was the iron fist of racism, that was out in the open, and made no apologies for the atrocities that it committed. What we have done since the 60's is put a velvet glove over that iron fist and we've hidden racism by putting colored faces at the front of our organization and saying "look how wonderful we are" while at the same time allowing our institutions to keep oppressing people of color.As white people we receive privileges that go completely unnoticed by us throughout every single day of our lives. When we walk into a store we recieve help right away. When we walk into a bank we are automatically more likely to get a loan. When we go looking for a home we are shown "white" neighborhoods with good school districts and are led away from high crime areas. In school we are given second and third chances where people of color barely get one. People in general trust us more just based on the color of our skin.If you can not see the privileges that you receive, just ask a person of color and they will be glad to tell you, or you can try to open your own eyes. If you can't and "one of your best friends is a person of color" do an experiment and go car shopping and take notes as to how you are both treated, it might shock you. If you are unwilling to open your eyes, then I do feel sorry for you, and I must apologize to our society on your behalf. Cypher from the movie the Matrix once said, "Ignorance is bliss", and I've heard people use that line before thinking they are witty. They are wrong, especially in the case of racism. With racism, "Ignorance is destructive".While these privileges are nice to have, they are poisonous to the long term health of both our society and race. They prevent us from fulfilling our true potential, and they prevent us from benefiting from the efforts of people of color. We need to accecpt that our society is at it's foundation racist in that it works for the benefit of white people, and until we can change those fundamentals we all suffer.I will end now with a chant that is often ignored from the civil rights movement. "White people, go home and free your own people!"
booooo. you guys are brats.
Hmmm some time since any comments have appeared here. Has anyone noticed how hard it is to maintain these things through time? I am beginning to see that reinventing the wheel really is an issue... it happens all the time. What are students at the U of M Dance Program thinking right now? I'm far from this, and have no clue how things are progressing. It would be nice to hear about how things are going, as I would love to be an outside support.
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