Created by YeaJean Choi (kNOwBOX dance Co-Creator & Programing Director)
February 24th, 2021, Seoul, South Korea
In 2020, from October to November, I took the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture’s Sensory expansion workshop series “Evolution of Questions” in South Korea. One of the workshops is called the Anti-racism creative activity for everyone by Taeyoon Choi who is a contemporary artist in drawing, painting, computer programming, among others. In this workshop, we learned the social relationship of racism, racism in the field of art practice, and shared about Ijeoma Oluo’s book “So You Want to Talk About Race.”
Left: Sonia Choi Right: Taeyoon Choi
Left: Sonia Choi Right: YeaJean Choi, Photo by 서울문화재단 예술교육팀
Sonia Choi who is the producer of Taeyoon Choi art studio shared BUFU Cloud9 Community Agreements in the workshop. Community Agreements are mutually agreed norms on how folks will interact with each other in a group. This agreement is about what is respectful space and how we want to be in relationship with one another. “BUFU(By Us for Us) is a collective of youg, queer, female artists supporting and fostering the discourse of Black and Asian solidarity,” writes Ayasha Guerin of The Village Voice. BUFU is a Brooklyn art-based community.
She explained the community agreements for Anti-Racism Activities in Art Activities. While taking this workshop, I realized it is very important to create the Community Agreements in my dance classes. Normally, I create the syllabus so that students can see the class attendance policy and participation regulations. However, this workshop taught me that the sharable space cannot be created by oneself, especially when the “classroom” setting contains the hierarchy power. It is important to have an open conversation and create the community agreements together to make a more communal space. Below are the community agreements I wrote in the workshop.
Who is this space for?
It is a space centered on everyone who can respect other cultures with an open mind without discrimination and prejudice.
Gender, sex, religion, race, social position, reputation, color, degree, personality, nationality, political orientation, etc. Those create one's identity and this space is not examining one person to categorize one or another.
In the 1st class, we will learn the concept of Intersectionality to understand one's identities. We will be aware of our privileges and prejudice discrimination and reverse discrimination against others.
We respect each other's opinions, regardless of gender, disability, age, class, career, or skin color, and strive for equal relationships.
A “safe space” is not space where only a person's freedom is established. Your freedom of action can make others feel uncomfortable. Think about how your actions will affect other people first, or ask about their feelings.
We respect each other's time. We give each other plenty of time to think, make choices, and don't force others to choose certain beliefs.
When referring to the other person, ask for the words they prefer and use them after agreeing. Don’t assume!
Don't make a joke or derogatory comments about people’s physical characteristics.
Everyone’s physical safety is a top priority in the dance studio. Recognize what makes your body comfortable and communicate to participants and teachers. We pay attention to what is communicated.
In dance classes, we do not give feedback through unnecessary physical contact. Discuss the boundaries in advance and respect them.
If you observe an unsafe or violent behavior in dance class, please report it to the person in charge of it.
Ijeoma Oluo’s book “So You Want to Talk About Race (Korean ver.)
This workshop proposed many questions that I should ask myself including: What are my identities? Who created it? Does it change when I go to different communities? What kind of privilege did I receive because of someone’s disadvantage? Why don't we know aspects of tragic stories? Did I create a violent classroom because of my ignorance of certain subjects? Is it even possible to create an equally “safe space” for everyone?
Taking this class in South Korea (which is not an immigrant country and still has very conservative cultures), I felt a lot of discrimination existed in the classroom. I realized how we abuse oppressive/dehumanize languages unconsciously. Personally, it was uncomfortable and complex to talk about racism but we never gave up in this workshop. We admitted the challenges, we tried to listen with an open mind and questioned how to move forward.
“No matter what our intentions, everything we say and do in the pursuit of justice will one day be outdated, ineffective, and yes, probably wrong. That is the way progress works. What we do know is important and helpful so long as what we do know is what is needed now.” ― Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race.
It was a precious time to experience the evolution of questions with the art educators. What if we have a few minutes to create the community agreements together for the group you are involved in?
Race in dance, Intersectionality, Art Education, Community Agreements
References and Recommendation:
Taeyoon Choi Website: http://taeyoonchoi.com
Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture: https://www.sfac.or.kr/index.do
Ijeoma Oluo’s book “So You Want to Talk About Race: https://www.amazon.com/You-Want-Talk-About-Race/dp/1580056776