Racist, Raciest . . .

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Posted May 15, 2008 in News

This past week, Riverside Community College choreographers and the dance department made fliers to promote its upcoming “Celebrate Dance 2008 Student Concert.” The fliers (four-color glossies, very nice) contained the choreographers themselves, all women, naked and tastefully exposed, with words like “will we ever recover from our complicity of silence” and “redress wounds with kisses” painted on intertwined limbs and across lotion-smooth chest plates. You know, the kind of thing that’s hardly radical, but perhaps a tad bit suggestive. 

Then the unthinkable happened—somebody saw it. This somebody proceeded to call administration at the college and complain, not only about the miles of flesh but of the inherent White Supremacy that was being parlayed. The caller threatened to have the director of the concert fired and to sue the school if immediate action wasn’t taken to remove these fliers from human sightlines. The fact that an African-American woman is central to the collage with the words “It’s all in your head” strewn across her chest would be enough to suggest that the evil hand of marijuana might be behind this call, but RCC reacted with greater paranoia still. It made the dance department remove all promotional material from campus and throughout downtown Riverside. 

The reason is of course that racism is serious, man, even if the item of accusation isn’t remotely racist or even rationally open to debate on what can be perceived as racist. Which of course opens the paradox: If ignorance is bad, and to be racist is to be ignorant, why is it okay for ignorance to define racism? RCC apparently doesn’t ask such questions—it reacts as guilty parties might before somebody associates its name with something negative. Panic before principles 101.

Whatever the case, the RCC student choreographers show will go on, as the concerts will be held May 16 (8PM) and May 17 (2PM and 8PM) at the Landis Performing Arts Center (tickets available for $6-$12 at door or at www.landispac.com). 

–Chuck Mindenhall

 


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