August 04, 2020
From PARC member Santiago Guzman as shared in the PARC E-Bulletin for June 24, 2020:
I have a voice... Now(?)
The spotlight is on me. I have a voice now. FINALLY! It is about time, isn't it? I mean, we all know how difficult it is to start a journey as an emerging artist in the industry. But it’s doubly hard to be heard and seen by established artists and organizations when you identify as a BIPOC and they are not. Oops, I said it! But it’s true. I acknowledge that I am not perfect. I have made mistakes, so I try to check on myself constantly. I am ready to feel uncomfortable, so if I am, you should be too.
As an immigrant, queer, and brown person navigating a predominantly white, English-speaking, heteronormative, able-bodied and cis-masculine community, I face micro-aggressions on a daily basis: Where is home? - I wish I had your skin colour, it’s so beautiful! - Your accent is delightful! I have to explain my existence to everyone around me because of what I look like, what I sound like; simply because of who I am.
I’ve been tired for a while now. Conversations about racism and discrimination, lacking representation at institutional levels, issues around privilege, you name it, ARE NOT NEW! And I have mixed feelings about people talking about this so much right now. On one hand, I am extremely happy that people (some doing it just for a performance piece on social media) are engaging in these difficult conversations, educating themselves, admitting their own biases, prejudices, and privileges, and engaging in lots of self-reflection. I’m happy, truly. On the other hand, it breaks my heart to know that FINALLY, people are acknowledging the concerns that I was bringing to their attention years ago. It makes me feel like I was not valued, recognized, heard, and that hurts me, once again.
But I want to be positive and acknowledge that change is coming. It will come in slow waves, yes, but actions should be consistent and ongoing because there’s a lot of catching up to do.
This must be a deep, meaningful, provocative change that will be recorded as a milestone for humanity.
So now that you realize that you have the opportunity to make space for BIPOC voices in the community, don’t seek to check a box. I’m tired of doing that (and I will still feel like this until BIPOC people occupy positions of power). Think of actionable items -short, medium, and long term- that you must do as an individual artist or as a leader of an organization.
Small victories are still victories.
I don’t want the mic now because it’s trendy. I want a platform to be heard because I’ve always had a voice.
With mucho amor,
Santiago Guzmán (He/Him)
Theatre and Filmmaker
BFA Theatre (Acting)