12 Days of Watchmas — Day Nine #WeSeeYou
While we’re talking about “isms,” can we please discuss the patriarchal overlord that is Capitalism? This economic system we’re swimming in feeds on oppression of all kinds, but racism is its main course — has been for centuries. It is nearly synonymous with White Supremacy, and the more we understand the relationship between the two the more we have to ask ourselves: how does capitalism show up in the White American Theatre and can we ever have an antiracist theater while living in a capitalist society?
The answer to the first part of that question is pretty easy for anyone with enough courage to look our field squarely in the face. Whether we’re talking about Broadway or the nonprofit theaters, the fact that we sell our art, our imaginations, our lived experiences for money…that’s the whole ball game right there. That paradigm breeds competition, scarcity, and individualism among theatermakers. It facilitates power hoarding at an institutional level, and pulls us closer to the pathology of Whiteness. Dig a half inch deeper and you’ll find the biggest donors often have outsized influence within an institution, and/or the artist who “delivers” at the box office is permitted to abuse their collaborators and staff — none of this is new. We’ve all witnessed it, been victimized by it, and been complicit in this “ism” and all its ills.
…Not the shit anyone wants to hear in the middle of a revolution. We’re over here preaching antiracism, but how the hell are we gonna get there if we’ve got this capitalistic monkey on our backs??? More bad news: we’re not.
But, here’s the good news/silver lining/new horizon. Antiracism was never the end game. It can never be the end game. It is one step along a path toward the actual promised land: Collective Liberation. Antiracism, decolonization, climate justice…all of these movements are interconnected and work together to move us closer to a world we’ve not seen in our lifetime, or our grandparents’ lifetime, or their grandparents’ lifetime and so on. More good news? We have Indigenous communities around the world and right here in our own colonized country whose DNA is rooted in right-relationship to the land and each other. Don’t let capitalism tell you otherwise.
In fact, let’s shift our paradigm and vocabulary all together. Let’s stop defining this movement as antiracist, or even anticapitalist and start defining it as a liberation movement for our field and our world. We must be at peace and embrace our imperfections in order to learn, evolve, iterate and emerge together. We have to do it together.
To that end, here are a few resources rolling in our heads, helping to inform some of how we’re growing:
DECOLONIZING WEALTH by Edgar Villanueva.
THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE FUNDED: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
By INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
OUR HISTORY IS THE FUTURE: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (available for pre-order)