It's been a hard few weeks, with the news of Derek Chauvin’s conviction was preceded by Adam Toledo’s murder and followed by that of Ma'Khia Bryant’s. Against such systemic brutality, it has always been the voices of artists and activists who’ve helped move us forward. As Sarah Bellamy, artistic director of Penumbra Theatre, writes in her powerful letter in American Theatre, “We still need the Railroad.” She ends her piece with:
“Stand in front of those in danger.
Don’t leave them alone.
Do what you can to help a beloved make it home.
Sarah’s letter is a call for personal and organizational action. It is not enough for predominantly white theatres to meet the #WeSeeYouWAT demands, not if our BIPOC colleagues can’t even make it safely to the theatre. As we prepare to reopen safely, whose safety are we prioritizing?
To our BIPOC colleagues and friends, we see your exhaustion, your grief, the ways you show up for your communities, again and again, the cost of it. You have kept the Railroad alive for each other, not only in the face of white violence, but white silence, white fragility, white passivity.
To white folx, we must hold other white folx accountable to bear witness, to stand in front of those in danger, to show up for the Railroad as if we didn’t have the choice of opting out. How would our BIPOC colleagues feel if they knew they were backed up by trusted co-conspirators, wholly dedicated to ending white supremacy? What would our collective joy feel like then? How powerful would our movement be? What kind of freedom could our theatres make together? These are some of the questions we’re asking ourselves, and we hope you’ll join us in that work.
Teresa Eyring & Adrian Budhu