Monday, March 16, 2009

Part 11: March 16, 2009 first evening of Spring Break

Tonight we posted a Note for Our Visitors (text below) on the inner door of the main entrance into the Barker.
We re-posted the Open Letter to the Dance Program with an added Addendum.
We re-posted the Statement About the Protection of White Walls, this time on the outside of the office door.
We also re-posted our responses to the questions that had been asked of us in the unsigned posting that had been placed last Monday on both the outer and inner doors of the main entrance; this time we put our responses in the window pane between the main office and Studio 100.
We also retaped some past postings that were now falling down.
Re-posts were re-printings of the original posts that were removed on March 15, 2009. There has been no official word from faculty or students claiming responsibility for removal.

A Note for our Visitors
From part 11


Welcome to our building. We are proud of our space and we are glad to have you in it. What you see around you is part of a six week long protest that has led to enormously important discussions we’ve been having about institutional racism, white privilege, and power being used to silence. These are difficult things to think about, let alone talk about, and there is a lot of pain and anger and confusion in our hearts and on our walls.

We don’t all agree with one another, but even in our anger and hurt, we all respect our commitment to the space. Even as we publicly hold our faculty responsible for the issues we protest against, we also publicly acknowledge that it is their activism and effort that has generated our freedom to protest.

We are not embarrassed to take responsibility for these problems by breaking the shame of speaking about them. Our program adamantly places value in anti-racist work and has demonstrated this by publicly permitting these powerful and ugly problems to be plastered across the building. We have been taught to question and to have the highest expectations of this space being one where confronting racism is permitted. We are in the process of learning. We are struggling with looking the monsters in the eye. We want to start learning how to deal with them.

Please feel free to talk with us about THIS. The more people you talk to, the greater the variety of perspectives you will encounter, and talking about it is healthy. The issues we are struggling with here are just an extension of those that permeate the real world, and we know they are present in your spaces as much as they are in ours. We want to learn from each other; we would be grateful to hear your stories and happy to share our own.

Welcome again, to a space where we are learning to be better human beings just as we are learning to be better dancers.

--us, March 16, 2009 (

Re-Post of the Open Letter to the Dance Program, with Addendum
From part 11

Text of the Addendum reads:
Don't disagree by silencing--
talk back, talk more, talk louder.
Silence is the enemy.

Re-Post of the Statement About the Protection of White Walls
From part 11

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part 11


  1. Things were taken down not to silence any one but because i a student feel this is not the time or place to air our dirty laundry. I also feel that you are unwilling to listen to our faculty, because of you this program may not recover from your temper tantrum. We very possibly could lose some great faculty because of your inability to talk to your peers and address the issue to the community(including people who thought they were your friends.) at the time of the issue. the only proof you have brought forward is UDT. Did you ever think it has nothing to do with race but the fact the you just gave up and didn't have the technique needed. In this industry of dance things happen that aren't fair its up to you to address your feeling but in a tactful way. I am disappointed in the people i thought were my friend. If you don't like it here then leave, this protest would not have been allowed in any other place, we are lucky to be able to speak in the way you have with out it being torn down with not discussion. Stop punishing the rest of your peers for your temper tantrum.


  2. Historical patterns of oppression: Silencing while claiming not to silence; Shaming; Redefining the public protest as a personal issue; Blaming the victim; Threatening that the protest will lead to reduced resources for everyone; Seeing the need for anonymity as a personal choice; Demanding a singular or spectacular proof of injury for something that is pervasive and often subtle; Asserting your ownership of the space by telling the target of oppression to leave; Confusing the freedom to speak with the existence of equality; Calling into question the qualifications, intelligence or maturity of the dissident voices. Tawny, do you recognize any of these in your comment? L.M.

  3. Jin Ming, when are you going to post the photos you took last night when your masked compatriot was taping more stuff up on the window of the Barker Center?

  4. What are your goals? What Outcomes do you seek? What efforts have you made to educate yourselves on the issues you are appropriating? No one has tried to silence you. Efforts have only been made to communicate, process, determine next steps, ask you what you want! Most upsetting in THIS protest is that you are only interested in harassing the Dance faculty. Publicly flogging them--twisting their efforts to work towards solutions. Refusing any dialog. You are painting such an inaccurate and unrealistic picture of the dance program. To think that you have such world class faculty teaching you and you accuse them of racism! Toni Pierce-Sands, a former Alvin Ailey Soloist is a full time member of your dance faculty. What about Diyah Larasati--a world renowned dance scholar from Indonesia also full time faculty. You accuse them of being racist and of not doing enough to educate the white faculty! Really?

    Is it your goal to push them to resignation? Would you like to completely shut down the Dance program at the University of Minnesota? You have undervalued and overshadowed their life long work in social justice to protest one casting choice in one Limon dance production when in fact the Limon company is exceptionally diverse! Clearly underscoring the obvious fact that casting for this performance was based on talent!

    So you weren't cast in a piece and now you are angry, but you haven't thought THIS through to its logical conclusion. Who will be responsible when faculty resign, when those "watching from outside" won't have any interest in teaching at this institution, when no new students will want to attend a school with such a "Racist" history? I know more than a few people who would hold you personally responsible.

    I know that your arrogance is preventing you from seeing the damage you are causing to this department. I know that your ignorance is preventing you from understanding that a true protest has a genuine reason with clearly stated expectations and outcomes. You must know it is very hard to take you accusations and pleas for anti-racist education seriously, when you are not signing up for and taking seriously any of the classes on these topics in the department. Not even when they are offered free and open to the public!

    Why is it that you waited until there was a Woman of Color directing the department? Founder of an all women of color dance company that mantains community, artistic excellence, and social justice as its pillars. Are you trying to undermine her efforts? Under Ananya's leadership the dance program is transforming. She brings in artists with national and international scope to work with you!(despite your complaints about their "thick" accents--I suppose that isn't racist) She is incorporating an African dance track and resisting the usual Ballet/Modern/Jazz framework maintained by most Dance departments across the country. Ananya has been director for all of 8 months, but she has been challenging White Privilege for her entire adult life. How dare you accuse her of not doing enough. And the "white" faculty in the Dance department, these people are talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic about your learning. Most of them have their own Dance companies and there are such unique opportunities for you to learn from and work with all of them. Your faculty do support you, they do encourage you, they operate in your best interests, they have no interest in silencing you. It is their job to educate you and that is exactly what they have been doing. Racism is real there is no doubt, and anti-racist work has to be sustained long term, we know that-- but this dance department on this University is actually working hard every day to get it right. I challenge you to find a place that does it better, and I invite you to attend that institution and leave the rest of us to work towards something viable and genuine.

  5. This is for the commenter identified as "D.C."

    You saw me because I went in to the Barker in the middle of the day, in plain sight.

    I only wanted to point out that what people were seeing was now an incomplete, censored version of the protest, since the Open Letter was taken down for the second time and the “us” people haven’t put it back up. Whether or not I agree with the content of the open letter is irrelevant; I cannot agree with the intimidation of dissident voices. Unfortunately, to disagree with the faculty, especially right now, is downright poisonous to my relationships with them.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with the pseudonymity of the protesters or the anonymity of anyone who wants to say anything at all, nor my or my "compatriot’s” discomfort. I do think it is wrong that someone can be punished for disagreeing, and your comment flaunts the fact that you think you have the power to bring that punishment upon me. And I like how you felt you could “out” me by using my name but you don’t even sign yours. If you have a problem with the protest, tell the protesters on the blog. If you have a problem with my personal action, write me an email or come talk to me.

    P.S. My "masked compatriot" is someone allied against censorship of the protest but has a different comfort level than i did, but it was their own idea to do what they did.

  6. We reply:

    @ 1 by Tawny:
    Tawny, we, too, know what it feels like to be disappointed in people we thought were our friends.

    @ 2 by L.M.:
    Thank you for naming these patterns so clearly. We hope other people can recognize them in some of the reactions to our protest.

    @ 3 by D.C.:
    We do not condone any attempts to link the name of an individual student with our protest. Keep your personal interactions with people off our blog.

    @ 4 by Anonymous:
    We are protesting because we trust that the people in the program you are so passionately defending do not, in fact, need to be defended, because they are as committed to learning from their mistakes and changing, as they ask their students to be.

    @ 5 by Jin-Ming:
    We appreciate your efforts to correct the record left by the censoring of our protest and we are very sorry that public support for us brings such negative repercussions on students like you and your ally.

    -- us

    (Comments originally posted on the Barker wall, dated April 1, 2009)