Meropi joins panel at CUNY Graduate Center: Solidarity Economy in the Performing Arts: What’s Reparations Got to do With it?
Talking about reparations is hard. As in, that is all I could sum up at the end of a two hour conversation on Monday night at the Center for the Humanities at CUNY Graduate Center.
There, a pretty impressive group of people - gathered on Monday night to discuss solidarity economy in the performing arts, and how that connects with the idea of Reparations in a larger context. I was invited to speak after submitting an article I wrote, in which I try and figure out what reparations means to me as a non-Black Person of Color. In both the article and at the panel, I grappled with the very real inequities in our performing arts field, and wonder whether there’s any way of getting tackling them through our individual or collective actions. To be totally honest, I was nervous, as a member of the so called "model minority" to be up there, talking about reparations and race and solidarity. After all, what do I know about all this? And wouldn't it be best if I just stayed quiet and agreed with everyone, the way I always used to do?
I figured I had to try, though. It's often all too easy for us "model minority" types to skirt by these really difficult and thorny issues, and when we do, aren't we just re-enforcing the status quo (i.e. whiteness?). And who wants to be doing that in 2018?
So I took the mic, and as soon as I heard my own voice amplified, I stumbled, and fumbled. I stopped, and started and tried to say the things I had meant to say, and maybe managed to articulate about half of them. I stayed honest, though. I was sure about that. And I spoke up. Imperfectly. Like a human. And will keep trying. Imperfectly.
In the end, I committed to decolonizing my own way of thinking, so that instead of asking "is this the most efficient way of doing something”, I ask, "Is this the most humane way of doing it?” It’s a small action step, but one I knew I could do some tangible work on. What about you? Is there something realistic (even if it’s small), that you want to do in your life and/or work to tackle the issue of Reparations? If so, share in the comments so we can inspire and support each other in this work.