When the spring semester was disrupted by an extraordinary pandemic, COVID-19 presented us with a “current new normal” for how we educate young people. However, last week’s senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis unfortunately is an occurrence too normal for too long in our country. To Black students, alumni, coaches, and adjudicators in the WHSFA community – and their loved ones: we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you as you face the pain of centuries of oppression and racism in our country that we continue to see today.
As a society we often only pay lip-service to addressing racism, claiming approaches like “colorblindness” to avoid confronting how we truly do see color. Instead, we must embrace race to understand and appreciate different lived experiences, particularly those targeted by systemic violence. Theatre, speech, and debate activities are driven by literary material and topics of current relevance. Our students express themselves in meaningful ways to tell their truths, to share important stories, and to make us think. For those of us who have lived privileged, comfortable lives, many of these stories and topics will make us feel uncomfortable. Discomfort, however, is the only way we can grow.
Our WHSFA community must work for equity, diversity, and inclusion. We must make our activities more accessible, supportive, and empowering for students, coaches, and adjudicators of color, and we must be accountable to ensure they have a safe space free of bigotry.
All of this starts with us listening, particularly to individuals from marginalized populations who have not been given a voice or a seat at the table.
Compiled by Adam Jacobi, Executive Director; with affirmation by Kam-Lin Roswall, Board Chair; and Pam Belden, Chair-Elect.
In the Summer 2020 newsletter, we included information on resources for teaching, directing, and coaching, related to race and social justice.