Changing the Race Dance

Photo Credit: Smita Misra

by J Zirbel [No pronouns, simply J]

I have learned from my participation in “Changing the Race Dance” that I can keep moving in love and wisdom, working to unravel and loosen the hold racism has on me. This workshop, led by visiting Artist-Scholars Soyinka Rahim and Cynthia Winton-Henry on Apr 20-21, was presented as a part of Interplay’s Body Based Methods + Performance Forms and co-sponsored by RCWMS.  

As a white, transgender/gender non-conforming (T/GNC) person of Bohemian and German descent, paying attention to how I may move in the world in less harmful ways can bring liberation, respectful interconnection and joyful engagement to me and to us all.

Before participating in “Changing the Race Dance,” I wondered, how I can discern what harm is really happening to my body, harm that I may be passing on to others? I feel that we as people move through emotionally charged, hot button issues throughout the day due to experiences of oppression in our daily lives. How do I release the pain and follow the wisdom inside of me for healing and for renewal for me and for those I have harmed?

Photo Credit: Smita Misra

In the workshop we practiced large, expansive, free flowing movements of play. I learned to follow my body’s lead, bringing inter-connected integrity into the dance, freeing my body from staid, tight, self-enclosing, routine movements. Before this workshop, I hadn’t questioned nearly enough what I assumed others expected, or actually anticipated, from me.

The joy of moving more freely in being me is seeping through my body from the inside out as I practice the dance I am learning. I am amazed at what I had been missing, what harm I was causing while I was paying attention to following the myth of ‘the way things are.’   

In the face of the reparation and honoring of grief required by the racist oppression in which I have taken part, that which I might feel too much to bear, I have learned that I can keep moving. The rhythm is inside of me, it is the life-giving love that fills me and binds me through the energy of love to all people and all things. In Soyinka Rahim’s words, “BIBO” (Breathe In, Breathe Out) Love.

I have learned from my participation in “Changing the Race Dance” that I can keep moving in love and wisdom, working to unravel and loosen the hold racism has on my ability to live for racial equity and transformation. The dance goes on.

 

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