In their incisive piece of writing ‘Is Decolonizing the New Black?‘ the Sisters of Resistance, Left of Brown and Jenny Rodriguez write: “Decolonising has entered consumers’ imaginations, and with it, a new kind of consumer has emerged: one that is politically astute and critical of Whiteness, but also firmly entrenched in conservative market forces that reproduce value through competitive means.”
If as project members we are to imagine ourselves at this new consumer, endevouring to critique the predominant Whiteness of contemporary dance, we need to be really mindful of our potential to be ‘firmly entrenched in conservative market forces’. How do we ensure that we wield our critique of contemporary dance’s Whiteness without perpetuating the market forces that (re)produce the powers that drive the industry?
The piece warns us of the appropriative and cooptive pitfalls of such projects, by providing clear guidance on the ethics of what needs prioritising in our enquires:
Engaging with Whiteness with a sense of responsibility and self-accountability while acknowledging that for centuries people of colour have been denied their role in producing and shaping intellectual ideas and knowledge, even about themselves. […]
Re-narrating institutional histories so that narratives of racism and imperialism are not forgotten and are instead used in ongoing work that looks to reform universities, in ways that significantly make them anti–racist, anti-imperialist spaces. […]
Developing, applying and regularly reviewing organizing principles as a way of translating anti-racist and decolonizing ethics into applied and measurable methodologies. […]
Working against intersectional racist structures so young people of colour can step into positions of power. […]
Organising within their own institutions to challenge racist practices and processes, including stepping back and giving up privileges, earned or unearned, as well as not continuing to hurt, violate or reduce the participation of people of colour in institutional spaces and processes […]
Making oneself vulnerable in the act of political struggle with White capitalist patriarchy. Decolonising ethics involve a consistent de-centering of the self as well as encountering Whiteness in structures, arrangements and relationships, where personal desire, intentions and underlying assumptions should be brought under sustained scrutiny. […]
Embracing solidarity as a radical act of self-effacement, where the Other determines the strength and quality of a relation […]
What an enormous responsibility we have taken on! The question that remains for me key to ask constantly of ourselves is : how vulnerable are we willing to make ourselves in this act of political struggle for the field?