In the light of the events of the summer of 2020 and the Black Lives Matters protests, the BYU Theatre and Media Arts Department (my alma mater) released a statement including the following,
“Thus throughout Fall Semester 2020, TMA will provide opportunities for its students, faculty, and staff to think, discuss, and learn deeply about race, equity, and inclusion. More specifically, we will labor together to understand how each of us can contribute to eradicating racism and thereby prepare a more Christ-like world for all of our Heavenly Parents’ children. TMA invites each of you to join us in this initiative. We look forward to standing beside you in this imperative work.“
One of these opportunities was the Black Lives Script Club hosted by previous professors of mine, Dr. Megan Sanborn Jones and Professor Shelley Graham. Each week we read a different script by a Black playwright from the first known published Black playwright, William Wells Brown, to Fairview by Jackie Siblies Drury, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Drama. The script club ran from September to December of 2020 and while I wasn’t able to read every play, the club was open to students, faculty, and alumni, so I was able to attend the weekly meetings and grow in ways I never imagined.
One of the most important things that I learned is that race is not cut and dry. There is such a complicated history to race. As a woman who is white-passing Hispanic a lot of the discussions felt uncomfortable to me, and that’s okay! Educating ourselves in this way and growing like this is not supposed to be comfortable. I was so appreciative of the opportunity to read works that I had never read by Black playwrights and discuss those scripts weekly with colleagues. Race is such a complicated topic and we need to continue talking about it. It can’t just become a trend that pops up ever couple of years. Performative allyship can’t be the way that people excuse their ignorance. The black square that was posted on many social media accounts six months ago can’t be the only thing we do. I acknowledge my privilege and I will continue to work every day to educate myself to do better and be better. I’m so appreciative of Black Lives Script Club for giving me a huge kickstart and a safe place to have these discussions.