Activism and direct action are usually most potent and effective when desired outcomes are clearly expressed. Slogans such as Black lives matter (and the response often stated by those who might be resistant to urgent and swift reform – All lives matter), are useful for drawing attention. Away from the demonstrations and toppling of statues however, there are many issues to be considered.
All living creatures aim to survive. We learn this fact as infants. Shared histories often remind us of injustices and cruel acts that we should aim to avoid in current times and the future. There is a subtext behind a lot of the conversations going on at present which is not expressed often or succinctly enough. The quality of Black lives should matter in all societies, more than they do at present.
Reflecting on an exchange about personal experiences as a Black performing artist, it has suddenly dawned on me that the training in our Higher Education Institutions has been rigid and blinkered for far too long. The aim to develop skills to a world class level should not be conflated with a misconstrued supposed desire to receive validation from people who have delusions of grandeur about ‘cultural superiority’, or ‘supremacy’. Not every non Caucasian person who trains in a Western performing arts institution is a ‘wannabe’.
On a deeper level, perhaps there is an issue to be addressed regarding the aim of many education systems to produce compliant graduates, who go into the jobs market to function as cogs in a wheel. This ethos is not sustainable in the long term.
Teaching staff, curriculums and also the commissioning and programming of new work in state funded arts organisations should be assessed and upgraded to take into account the diverse heritages of artists and audiences on a regular basis in all ‘civilised’ countries.