We are, I believe, in one of the toughest times in our country's history, as we continue to battle a deadly pandemic and the resulting unemployment that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since The Great Depression, and once again, coming face-to-face with the long-term effects of racial injustice.
As an African American, college educated and business owner, unfortunately, police brutality, racism, and discrimination are a part of my daily reality. I am all too familiar with how dangerous an interaction with the police can become. Even though I was raised in one of most dangerous neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and lived in gang territory while attending college, I never found any of that as scary as being pulled over for a speeding ticket.
When I was in college, I studied slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and of course, systemic racism. I have also studied the effects it has on our community and have tried to live in a way that demonstrates perseverance, dignity, grace, and compassion, regardless of those circumstances.
What are the next steps? I don't have all the answers, but I am no longer OK with not asking the question: If everything were on the table, what could a small company like 410 Line Dancers do? For me, it starts with seeing the situation for what it is, acknowledging these experiences for what they are and, quite simply, becoming a vehicle for positive change. Equally important, it includes committing the company I lead down a path of systemic, permanent change in as many ways as we can find.
On December 16, 2019, at The Texas Jam Line Dance Conference, 410 Line Dancers partnered with the Irving (TX) Police Department and held a seminar on how to safely handle yourself within a police interaction. Our goal was to provide tangible information and become proactive about the issue of police brutality that affects so many of us. It was an opportunity to speak to police, understand their views, and have them hear ours. The conference was raw, emotional, heated, but extremely productive.
My goal will be to continue working with our local police, banks, media, politicians, real estate agents, and other places where I have seen systemic discrimination, create a dialogue and public symposiums on possible solutions to the issue. We will start there, and we will listen for ideas on things we can do to be a vehicle for positive change. Additionally, I challenge everyone within this dance community to develop some substantive, enduring ways we can address the inequities and injustices to which all of us bear witness every day.
We are committed to promoting a culture of equality, and we don’t tolerate racism, sexism, or any other discrimination at 410 Line Dancers. If you’d like to get involved with our diversity and inclusion efforts, please contact us at email@example.com
Isha Hutchinson Dance Instructor – 410 Line Dancers