Image: Amanda James
The world has gone awry
First up. I ‘d like to express that the opinions you are about to read, the publishing company do not endorse, nor take responsibility for. There will probably be a formal disclaimer attached at the bottom of the post but I just wanted to clearly express my position.
What up folks? The world has gone awry and we are cannibalising our community.?! (the independent arts community). The rise of cyber bullying and bad behaviour within all Australian demographics during this pandemic has been well documented. It has to stop. There is a line between passion and trolling.
Harsh words you might declare. I will not point to any specific incident because this is a public platform and as such this is not the place for direct confrontations. To allow an individual a chance to rebut in private, is the best possible strategy in finding a solution. Failing that, at least a chance to acknowledge a point of difference.
For what is difference? It is probably something one fears initially, but hopefully over time something one recognises and grows accustomed to. More importantly difference is the exciting stuff of the world. Difference is the substance of curiosity and represents the possibility for a new and maybe life-changing experience.
My reason for wanting to think about difference and diversity and positive affirmation in the workforce and dare I say it, the global Black Lives Matter Campaign arose out of a paper I am writing about protocols and permissions regarding working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual property and peoples. I have also conducted quite a few interviews around this topic of cultural obligation, including acts of reciprocity and self determination for ATSI people in relation to art. I have come to the realisation that the reason for a lot of confusion, reluctance, in some cases resentment leading to acts of subterfuge, is because our attitudes are too focussed on the repercussions if we don’t toe the line. If we don’t adhere to the rules. Put simply our attitudes are too focussed on punitive measures.
Get to the point Vicki.
In relation to strict guidelines about permissions I simply changed my thinking. Instead of considering them as a necessary burden on my pathway to possible funding opportunities, permissions present an opportunity for me to contact someone new within my community, possibly in the form of an elder or, better still, a bureaucrat I may convert to the joys of dance.
I now want to draw your attention to what was one of the most courageous and uplifting points in world history.
In 1960 in North America’s deep south when black segregation laws were in effect, four young men entered a Woolworths dinner counter and sat in the ‘whites only’ section and patiently waited to be served. They came back every day and sat stoically, impeccably dressed, maintaining composure amongst jeers and ridicule by the whites who took offence at their behaviour. The movement spawned a groundswell and eventually the black college students were served as their actions disrupted the flow of commerce and businesses had no choice but to abolish the long held racist policy. (https://time.com/3691383/woolworths-sit-in-history/)
I put it to us, who want to see change, especially the artists amongst us – We are not the common denominator! We have the power to make our art make a difference. To all of us in this time of covid, we must still adhere to social etiquette. When we are alone in relative isolation it is easy to lose sight of the recipient of our actions, to lose empathy and unintentionally hurt those we never possessed any ill will toward.
To those of us who wear or feel or are different, it is our duty to turn others on to that difference, to want to be a part of it. Don’t other the majority like we may have been othered. It simply doesn’t work and what’s more, it further alienates us.
Lastly, I will commit to going outside my comfort zone and take part in a cultural act (preferably dance) I’ve not experienced before. At least twice a week until the next blog. A small act but I’d like to hear from others who take up my challenge, even if it’s one class or cultural act. Get back to me with your experiences. Watch this space.
Vicki Van Hout