Anti-Black Racism Statement

Dance Ontario strongly and unequivocally condemns global anti-Blackness and white supremacy.

The following statement was written by members listed below of the Dance Studies Association, USA. DSA has been replaced with Dance Ontario where ever possible and some items omitted from the original that do not pertain to our specific situation.

Because we are in Canada, it needs to be mentioned that the plight of the Indigenous people of our country must be addressed with the same attention and vigour as is outlined in this statement.

This statement is a Work In Progress and will be adjusted as we learn more about these concerns.

Dance Ontario strongly and unequivocally condemns global anti-Blackness and white supremacy. We condemn the brutal murders of Black people. We condemn the systemic devaluing of Black life—a devaluation that steals and threatens the breath of Black people across the world. We acknowledge that our field has historically devalued Black intellectual and artistic labor, labor that has been and continues to be central to the development of dance studies. We also recognize the ways in which Dance Ontario continueS to reproduce and uphold white hegemony. Dance Ontario, too, is complicit in upholding these white supremacist structures.

However, condemning these systems is not enough; we must acknowledge that our field has been built on and benefited from white supremacist ideologies and practices, and perpetuates them in a variety of ways, even as strong efforts are made by some to dismantle them. For Dance Ontario’s condemnation to be meaningful—and not just a hollow statement that reproduces the violence it calls out—it must be met with concrete actions aimed at transforming our organization and our field. To this end, Dance Ontario has been belated in issuing a statement and recognizes that this silence has itself been painful. Our ultimate goal: the total dismantling of white supremacy and its white-knuckle grip on the dance field. Such change must begin, first, with honoring, celebrating, and amplifying the enormous contributions of Black artists and Black scholars to the field of dance studies. Fiercely championing anti-racist practices and measures in the pedagogical, scholarly, and artistic reach of our international organization is also urgent. Affirmation of Black life and the dismantling of white supremacy are essential to the future of dance studies and this organization.

Dance Ontario will take the following immediate and long-lasting steps to combat white supremacy and anti-Black racism in our organization and in the field of dance studies more broadly:

  • Dance Ontario will program ongoing events, provide public resources, and develop new initiatives that center, make space for, and empower Black students, and artists in our organization and in the field of dance studies at large;
  • Dance Ontario will facilitate conversations on systemic racism, white fragility, white gatekeeping, and the micro-practical ways that racial liberalism and racialized capitalism stall anti-racist mobilization within the dance field. These long-overdue conversations will transpire among leadership and within the membership at large in order to hold the field of dance studies and Dance Ontario accountable for reproducing anti-Blackness and white supremacist culture;
  • Dance Ontario will examine its current institutional structures, processes, and working culture to make changes that advance an explicitly anti-racist agenda, with transparency and accountability as guiding ethics. Wherein institutional racism is embedded in existing policies, Dance Ontario will change  policies rather than being beholden to previous ways of working.
  • Dance Ontario will continue ongoing conversations surrounding how the white, anglo-centered, heteronormative and ablest culture of our organization has contributed to the precarity and significant underrepresentation of BIPOC colleagues in our field. Dance Ontario will act on our prior commitments to center historically marginalized groups in the field and organization, understanding that anti-racist commitments ought to also benefit and enhance access for otherwise marginalized members, including those in non-English speaking countries, differently-abled/disabled members, LGBTQIA+, elderly, and others whom our programming has thus far not prioritized.
  • Dance Ontario will commit material and human resources to the deep, sustainable, and long-term fulfillment of the above goals, regarding the intentional redistribution of institutional resources as a necessary and central aspect of fulfilling the core mission of our organization and serving the field of dance studies.

We will undergo the above work in the spirit of mutual accountability.

Dance Ontario envisions this as a deeply intentional and likely imperfect process that will engage our entire membership. Dance Ontario embraces this imperfection—knowing we are far more committed to anti-racist work than we are to a dangerous promise of perfection. Care, matched with openness to being critiqued, is necessary to the enormity of the charge at hand. Dance Ontario welcomes contributions and input from all members of the dance performing and studies community, at any time and in all forms, as we work together in this process toward our shared goal of a truly equitable future.

This statement was written by the following members of the Dance Studies Association (USA) and then adjusted slightly to accommodate Dance Ontario keeping the same spirit.

Melissa Blanco Borelli, President
Joanna Dee Das, Treasurer
Meiver De la Cruz, Board Member
Sherril Dodds, VP Publications and Research
Anne Flynn, Immediate Past-President
Victoria Fortuna, Board Member
Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, Graduate Student Representative
Imani Kai Johnson, Board Member
Jasmine Johnson, Board Member
Anusha Kedhar, Secretary
Lizzie Leopold, Executive Director
Melissa Melpignano, Graduate Student Representative
Royona Mitra, Board Member
Takiyah Nur Amin, VP Professional Development
Janet O’Shea, VP Awards and Prizes
Prarthana Purkayastha, Board Member
Jacqueline Shea Murphy, VP Conferences
Sarah Wilbur, Board Member
Emily Wilcox, Board Member