I wanted to take the time to chat about BurlyCon and our work transitioning as an Anti-racist and Anti-Oppressive organization. It’s important to me that you know what we are working on and where we are headed.
When I was promoted to Executive Director (ED), I promised the community two things: commitment to shifting BurlyCon to an anti-racist organization; and transparency within the organization. Since my promise, the board took their first anti-racism training in 2018 and we plan to continue that education. We also wrote policies to make sure that our programming team commits to booking at least Invited Presenters that are at least 50% BIPOC. Also, we have worked hard to make sure that our steering committee is diverse and reflects our industry. Currently, we are rewriting all of our policies under the guidance of a Diversity and Equity professional to make sure that we effectively address anti-racism, anti-oppression, and equity. This work is continuous and a long term commitment.
I am an Afro-Latina woman. Like many of you, I put myself in the dangerous and scary position of protesting to defend Black lives. Those protests made me think about the radical changes needed in our industry. I asked myself what I can do to make a change in an industry that has a history of racism. I started by asking our steering committee where they see BurlyCon headed and where they want us to be in this fight against racism. I left that meeting understanding that they want BurlyCon to stand up and explicitly fight racism. They wanted us to be a leader of change and, they wanted us to be fearless. Well, that was a lot to digest and an overwhelming task but I knew that they were right.
What comes next? Where do we see BurlyCon headed?
Instead of tackling this project alone, I chose to speak with many folx across the country. I hope to continue those conversations with folks outside of the USA. After over 25 hours of conversation and the support of many of our industry leaders, the plan is to expand our programming.
BurlyCon is often thought about as a convention but we are a nonprofit. The convention is one program our nonprofit offers and the plan is to add additional programming. The first is an online educational university. We love our in-person convention but we also want to be able to offer teaching opportunities and learning opportunities throughout the year. You can join our second experiment with this concept at our BurlyPod on July 25th.
Our next program is a bit more radical. Along with our Advisory Committee, we will create a program that combines anti-racist education, restorative justice, and conflict resolution training within our curated burlesque curriculum. Our goal is to provide folks with an opportunity to commit to a long term continuing education. There are many other offerings this program may provide such as educational resources, directories, fellowship programs, and so much more. This will take time and these are long term goals but we are very excited to begin the process.
That process begins with listening to all of you. We will be conducting a survey to ask about your experiences with racism in burlesque, racism at BurlyCon, and to understand your educational needs. This data will be collected and we will publish a report that will be made public.
This is a huge endeavor, we don’t have all of the answers about what this program looks like yet; that’s what the advisory committee will help with. But what we do know is that as an organization we plan to use our platform to create positive change in the industry and to make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure that future generations have Anti-racist and Anti-oppressive burlesque educational content.
As I said, this is just a teaser so expect more details soon. I’m posting a link to our newsletter sign up so you can get info when the survey is up, I’m also including info about our BurlyPod on July 25th as well as a link to sign up to join our advisory committee. We have limited space but we will leave that link up until Tuesday, July 21.
I’m so grateful for your time today. This project has inspired me and I can’t wait to share more details with you very soon. Wishing you all good health, peace and lots of love.
Newsletter Sign-up: https://burlycon.com
Open Statement: https://burlycon.org/an-open-letter-to-the-community
Advisory Committee Sign-up form: https://forms.gle/tVEjWYCbywizwsQn8