Provost Seminar with Narda Alcorn: Tools to Becoming an Antiracist
posted by Megan Uncapher
On December 10, I attended the LIM Provost Seminar with guest speaker Narda Alcorn. Alcorn is currently a Professor and Chair of Stage Management at the Yale School of Drama. Along with that, Professor Alcorn has worked as a stage manager for many plays that were featured internationally, regionally, and on Broadway. Recently, she and her colleague Lisa Porter released an article titled, “We Commit to Anti-racist Stage Management Education.” The seminar’s discussion was based on the premise of this article.
In light of recent events, and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, Professor Alcorn feels that, as someone who identifies as a Black woman, right now is the time to help facilitate change, and provide education in becoming anti-racist. As a supporter of Black Lives Matter, I was very intrigued and grateful for the wisdom she had to bestow on me and my classmates.
Professor Alcorn gave six tools to actively become anti-racist in stage management, but these tools can also be practiced by everyone. They are:
1. Dismantle perfectionism
2. Do research and self-educate
3. Be aware of your language
4. Take active allyship
5. Have open conversation to acknowledge and name racism
6. Create a safe space filled with compassion and transparency
With that, Professor Alcorn exclaimed, “Change is really small.” What she meant was that small changes people make towards anti-racism can have enormous effects on society. Simply speaking out when you hear a racist comment, taking extra steps to make sure you shop at BIPOC (black indigenous person of color) businesses, or continuously trying to learn more are all actions that can lead to the change that is so longed for.
Professor Alcorn made a statement that really resonated with me as someone who is not a person of color. She said, “Everyone is harmed when there is racial oppression.” This is not just a BIPOC’s issue, it’s a humanity issue, which in turn means it’s my issue too. I feel grateful to be attending a college that recognizes that they are in a position to bring light to issues like this, and who are using their platform to further educate me and everyone who attends our school about antiracism and other civil rights issues.
I have come to learn that not being racist is not enough. I have to actively be anti-racist. Professor Alcorn recommended a book, How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. In the book, the author defines what it means to be racist and anti-racist. To be anti-racist is to be a person who supports antiracist policies in their actions, language, and thoughts. You may not be able to control other people, but you can do your best to educate those around you and speak out when someone is being discriminated against. I myself know how hard it can be to speak up, which is why it is so important for people in leadership positions to create environments where everyone feels safe to speak their mind and be true to themselves. Because, as Professor Alcorn mentioned, “hurt people hurt people.”
I am very appreciative to have been able to attend this seminar and greatly recommend all LIM students partake not only in seminars like this one, but also explore what they can do to become anti-racist. And to those who have ever felt oppressed, I can never begin to understand how you feel, but I will continue to educate myself and hope that one day your fight for equality will be over.
Here are a few other resources that were provided to us before the seminar that you can read if you are interested in furthering your knowledge on race and anti-racism:
LIM students who are interested in taking the Provost's Seminar course in Spring 2021 should email firstname.lastname@example.org