Everybody’s Favorite Nice Guy Has a New Gig

Everybody’s Favorite Nice Guy Has a New Gig

October 6, 2020, 12:14 am
Filed under: art institutions, feminism, Leadership, Racism, theatre | Tags: anger, Benevolent sexism, big boat, favorite sons, Lake Travis, rage, reckoning, restitution, throwing plates

You all remember the guy who inspired my blog post about Sticky Benevolent Sexism? (It was a few people’s favorite. It’s about the time this guy asked all the ladies to stand up so the men could applaud us.) Well, I just got an email from an organization that is trying to reckon with its own racism and sexism and this guy is apparently part of some learning group on the subject. In the email, he recommends some podcasts to listen to for this racism/sexism reckoning.

I happen to agree with his recommendations so I can’t fault him for his choices. But there’s something about this particular brand of white guy leading this conversation that just makes me want to start throwing plates.

He’s the darling of this organization. One of the Favorite Sons. Everybody’s favorite nice guy. I bet if he’d spoken to me, I’d have found him nice and charming, too. It’s not about him, I promise.

It’s how this particular pattern is playing itself out around the world. Rather than figuring out how to include all the people who have been left behind due to their race, class or gender, the white men who have the power are figuring out how to talk the woke talk so they can hold on to their positions of power.

They’ll still have the jobs, the gigs and the opportunities but now they’ve learned how to say that we should be hearing from a BIPOC or a woman instead of them before they start their speech. They’ll hang their heads a little bit and bemoan that it is they in front of us, instead of, say, a black woman. “It’s just too bad,” they’ll say. They’ll coat their power in a layer of guilt so we still like them and let them keep their jobs.

Rather than going back and collecting all the people this organization left behind over the years, it’s beefing up the current members with woke language and talking big talk about all the people they’ll include in the future.

And maybe they will! I don’t know. But as one of those people that got left behind, I know I will never be collected. There will never be a moment when they say, “Hey, where was that nutty feminist from a few years ago? Think we should ask her back to help us improve our sexism problem? She might know a few things about that.” It will NEVER happen.

Instead, they’ll have the newly woke white guy explain it to them.

It’ll happen for BIPOC folks as well. The reckoning won’t pull an artist back in who understood how racism was operating there. They won’t call up that artist and ask them to make a piece about what it’s like to be excluded.

Nope. The newly woke white guy will lead everyone in a white guilt seminar instead.

And maybe, just maybe, they will make a change and the place will be full of the work of women and BIPOCS, as well as work by working class or disabled artists. Maybe this place will become a beacon of egalitarian art.

But they won’t come back for me. They won’t come back for all the BIPOC, working class or disabled artists they left behind.

As an artist in my 40s, no one’s coming back for me. I know that. If I’m not the Favorite Son now I never will be. All the privileges, that got Mr. New Woke Bae where he is, passed me by and he will continue to benefit from what got him there. He may begin to try to make space for the artists on the horizon who fit his mold but all the women and BIPOC artists who got displaced in the water, because his boat was coming through, are drowned forever.

Except we’re NOT drowned forever. We’re still here and available. But those who got drowned in the wake of this guy’s big boat are poison somehow. We’re too angry. We don’t strike the right tone.

(Sorry about all these boat metaphors. The Trump parade at Lake Travis is fresh in my mind and the way all those big boats caused the submerging of the little ones, really stuck with me. I mean it’s just so apt, metaphorically speaking — those big boats having no awareness of the others’ distress as they happily motor along, throwing up damage in their wake.)

Anyway — congratulations on your new wokeness newly woke white guy. I look forward to your blogs about feminism — because heaven forbid you just amplify mine.

The plates I have hurled in my imagination.

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Originally published at http://artiststruggle.wordpress.com on October 6, 2020.

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Theatre Artist, writer, blogger, podcaster, singer, dreamer, hoper

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Emily Davis

Theatre Artist, writer, blogger, podcaster, singer, dreamer, hoper