Life in Lockdown: Friday w/ Emma Houston

Life in Lockdown | 12 June 2020

A crowd holding up a banner that says racism is a pandemic

A Week in My Mind

Day 5

As a white person in the Hip Hop dance industry who moved from Stirling in Scotland to London in 2011, I was definitely naïve about the racial issues the black community and POC face on a daily basis. It is and has been a mission of mine to listen, learn, and be a voice of solidarity with the black community at all times, especially as I have become more aware of the complexities of systemic, institutionalised and individual racism. Coming from a majority white surrounding growing up, I can tell you: I’ve said the wrong thing before. I’ve done the wrong thing before. I’ve been ‘scared’ to talk about race and bring it into the conversation because I didn’t know how to, or if it was ‘my place’. I am sure I was one of the people horrified at the thought of ever being called racist because I truly believed I wasn’t. I mean, everything I loved and felt an affinity towards was from black culture. I had black friends, partners, mentors, teachers. But no. That doesn’t mean you are exempt. It’s not the same. I have still, unconsciously, operated from a place of inherent ignorance. Because I hadn’t interrogated racism enough, and my privilege enough. That means I was/am still part of the problem. Unpicking that within myself, the idea that that belief was ‘enough’ to stand in solidarity with the black community, but not enough of a priority for me to think about every single day, because I didn’t HAVE to, was wrong. I didn’t have to think about it every day, because I’m white. Therefore, I see why ‘choosing’ to ignore it when it suits, is a part of my privilege, that I am committed to dismantling. I’ve only progressed these views through listening, learning, interrogating myself and truly being passionate about black lives and equality in society. I’ve always wanted equality in society, my whole life. Truly. But wanting equality and being personally responsible for my part to play in moving us towards equality, however big or small, are two completely different things. I can’t want to get better at dancing without practicing it. Visualisation of me as a better dancer is powerful but it needs a mix of action and knowledge.

I have spent lockdown researching and engaging in topics that I care deeply about: anti-racism and white privilege, internalised homophobia and transphobia, able-ism, consumerism, climate change, health and well-being, the effects of trauma, healing and presence through meditation, Qi Gong and food as medicine. Would I have MADE the time to focus my energies on these passions otherwise?

For me, this is all connected to the mover and artist that I am, the maker and choreographer that I want to be. The creative that I’ve always been evolving into. Perhaps this time of quarantine has been the most crucial of them all. To clarify for me where I stand, and where I want to stand on these issues; what kind of artist and human being I want to commit to moving through the world as. It’s simply not good enough for me to just accept others as they are without action: I want to make their issues my issues, their fight my fight. We all need to realise we are an integral part of the conversation about the kind of world we want to live in.

Emma Houston

Black Lives Matter

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