(Editor’s note: Dance Exchange is in the midst of our 2014 Summer Institute, and our communications work/study, India Harville, will be blogging over the coming week about her experience in the studio and out as we share tools, processes, and movement to advance racial equity. I hope you enjoy India’s thoughtful reflections, questions, and contributions as much as I have. –Amanda Newman)
Today was the fifth day of the Dance Exchange Summer Institute and we have already had such a rich, complex, multifaceted start to our conversation about moving towards racial equity. Before I share my thoughts on all we have covered thus far, let me situate this Institute in its particular context by giving a little history on how the focus of this institute was decided.
It All Began when…
The Embrey Family Foundation, a philanthropic and community building foundation in Dallas
Texas, and the Boone Family Foundation, another Texas based philanthropic organization, attended a conference called Facing Race hosted by Race Forward in 2012. The conference focuses on ways to advance racial equity.
Race Forward is a national organization dedicated to innovative methods to move racial justice forward in the areas of research, media, and practice. They are the producers of Colorlines, a popular magazine that focuses on issues of race, culture, and community organizing.
After attending the Facing Race conference, both Foundations established Dallas Faces Race to explore how to ensure that their grantees would be better equipped to create more racially equitable organizations. Dallas Faces Race is an ongoing forum in Texas that includes many community members from various partner organizations all dedicated to furthering racial justice for the greater Dallas area.
In addition to forming Dallas Faces Race, The Embrey Family Foundation and the The Boone Family Foundation also commissioned Race Forward to host their biennial Facing Race Conference in Dallas Texas this November 13th—15th. This will mark the first time the conference will be held in the south.
Where does Dance Exchange come in?
The Embrey Family Foundation has had a relationship with Dance Exchange and they recognize and support innovative new ways for approaching challenging situations and approached Dance Exchange to partner with Dallas Faces Race, and Race Forward to provide artistic and movement based tools for addressing racial inequity.
Dance Exchange is working with all of the interested parties and will be present at the Facing Race Conference this winter and will continue working with the team over the next year to continue to help Dallas explore pathways to creating racial equity using the arts and will produce some type of performance art piece as well.
What does this have to do with the Summer Institute?
The Summer Institute is serving as an incubator taking the Dance Exchange toolkit and using it to explore concepts of racial justice. The community that has gathered for the conference includes key Texas stakeholders, racial justice activists, healers, dancers and artists, as well as people who are new to racial justice work but want to see it move forward. We are racially and ethnically diverse, and come from many different parts of the world. This is one of the largest Summer Institutes hosted by Dance Exchange to date!
We have already learned and felt so much, moved with and through so much; and yet we realize that there are so many places where we need to deepen our inquiry. Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share more about what we have been doing!