A logo of solidarity

dvsDave

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I saw a post tonight on Facebook that resounded with me. Written by Douglas Lyons, an amazing and awesome actor, writer, composer, and somebody all of us should listen to right now.

https://www.facebook.com/douglas.lyons.35/posts/10102001392914579

I'll post it here as well:

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The knee on the neck.

Some see the murder porn video of George Floyd’s death and say: “Ouch, how awful.” I’m now seeing theatre people sharing “Make Them Hear You” videos. But don’t think for one second that the politics of our industry aren’t an invisible version of that video.

The knee on the neck.

The ability to say: “I like your idea, but I don’t know if it’ll resonate with my audience.” Not because it’s not good, but because it’s not well “white or safe enough.”

The knee on the neck.

My ability to count Brown lead producers and theatre owners on one hand followed by my inability to find many creative Tony nominees who look like me. The token chorus roles. The big black gospel solo feature over and over and over again instead of the stories about our souls.

The knee on the neck.

The Black slot each season, testing black audience attendance with no desire to engage them further. The appreciation of black talent for the money it makes but the silence for the struggle it cries. The fear of writing this post or speaking my truth because coming off too radical could have its consequences.

The knee on the neck.

The Black artistic directors who can’t fully support you because they have a knee on their neck. The realization that it may be a black cast on stage but most of the royalties from that “award winning piece” forever fill a white pocket.

The knee on the neck.

I’ve been asked quite often from my white allies “what can I do?”. Share this post, and talk amongst yourselves. Dig deeper into your awareness of our business and unpack the fact that though you can’t see it, most of your black colleagues too have knees on their neck.

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So, all I ask of all of you, no matter what you do in the industry, today or in the future, let's make sure that we are not a knee on the neck of anyone in our industry. We must have our heads up and eyes open and be aware, vigilant against the damning silence of apathy.

I have modified ControlBooth's logo to show solidarity. Graphics are one of the ways I can express what I feel. This is my first step. There will be more, but I need to think about what I can do to help. What talents, resources and connections can I bring to this fight? What can I do to ensure that I'm not a knee on the neck? I don't expect to get much sleep tonight, but I hope each of you can reflect on what you can do as well.

-David Silvernail
Owner, ControlBooth.com
 
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MNicolai

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There's a spreadsheet floating around of theaters who have/haven't made statements in support of the black community. Can't say I agree with the idea of shaming theaters into "checking a box" by posting something online and patting themselves on the back...like...well...having a token minority in your cast, but since it's a list that may impact people here in the orbit of CB, I figured I'd share it.

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gafftapegreenia

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Glad to see CB take a position. I know its not easy, but I support it.
 

dvsDave

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Glad to see CB take a position. I know its not easy, but I support it.
Taking a stand is the easy part, it is the right thing to do. The hard part is going to be how to figure out what I can do. Taking a stand is the start, but what can do, as myself, as CB? What can we as a community? I don't collect ethnic demographics about our users. I have no way to know how many people of color are even in the CB community. I don't know where most of you work, or live, other than you are here on ControlBooth because you are in the industry in some way. That's all I need to know. CB is, by it's very nature, colorblind like almost all online forums. I thought that was a good thing, where anyone could come and share information, or ask questions. Anonymity is respected on CB for a variety of reasons. Many of you I've chatted with and talked to long before I ever saw your face or met you in person. @gafftaper and I love to joke when headed out to LDI that we're going to Vegas to hang with friends we met on the internet.

But I'm still not sure what I can do to help. Would love to hear any ideas of how I can help any one of you.
 

MNicolai

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IATSE's statement talked about supporting future legislation on the matter. Supporting and promoting legislation is probably one of the better ways to secure lasting change.

In my eyes, eliminating the roles that police unions have in accountability and discipline needs to be a top legislative priority. While I generally support labor unions, I cannot think of any other unions with the kind of grip on America that police unions have. Many communities cannot apply checks and balances to their police forces and weed out the bad apples until that is addressed and like with the military, if a police officer is terminated equivalent to a "dishonorable discharge", they should not be able to pop up 50 miles away at different department. Other important areas of legislation could include better recruiting so police serve the communities they live in, more training before entering the field, and offering the kind of deescalation training that our military receives.

Statements of support are fine but quickly turn into the trite "thoughts and prayers" we see with school shootings. If we don't grow effective legislation out of this moment, no amount of public awareness or support is going to prevent us from still being stuck in this cycle for another 50 years.

EDIT: added IATSE's statement.

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ppas11hum

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I for one do not agree with the sentiment expressed in the original quote. I have many reasons why, but fear that I will be silenced for giving my opinion and disagreeing with anything not deemed politically correct. All I will say is that the arts industry is the most tolerant and accepting industry on planet earth.

And regarding the IATSE release....IATSE has the MOST work to do of anyone in the theater industry when it comes to this topic. Anyone who's spent time on a Local 1 crew can tell you that.
 

ruinexplorer

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dvsDave

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BillConnerFASTC

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If we don't grow effective legislation out of this moment, no amount of public awareness or support is going to prevent us from still being stuck in this cycle for another 50 years.
I was around and aware of the civil rights legislation in the 1960s. And much since over the intervening 50+ years. Hard to be optimistic about more legislation solving this.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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While I generally support labor unions, I cannot think of any other unions with the kind of grip on America that police unions have.
Maybe we should build rubber rooms for police, like the NYC department of education has for teachers accused of misconduct. Show up, spend a shift there, collect pay and benefits, and eventually retire.
 
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MNicolai

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I for one do not agree with the sentiment expressed in the original quote. I have many reasons why, but fear that I will be silenced for giving my opinion and disagreeing with anything not deemed politically correct. All I will say is that the arts industry is the most tolerant and accepting industry on planet earth.
Not sure what your concerns are but I have a similar feeling about the spreadsheet calling out groups who have/haven't expressed public support. I'm sure there are some racist, sexist, or simply shitty theaters to work for but cataloging 500 theaters with when they posted a statement or if they haven't yet doesn't do much to target the theaters that need to get their act together. Feels like you're just asking to be pandered to without any lasting commitment. I read through some of the tweets surrounding the spreadsheet from those who created it and understand there are legitimate issues they are trying to resolve but that message isn't getting out right now and isn't yet being clearly articulated. If there are a dozen theaters on there that treat minorities like a commodity and refuse to produce plays relevant to matters that resonate with black audiences and performers and who should be subject to criticism, you wouldn't know that from that spreadsheet. If that's actually 200 theaters and I would never have guessed that because I don't personally experience that myself -- I wouldn't know that either. I hope to learn more about that in days to come.

And regarding the IATSE release....IATSE has the MOST work to do of anyone in the theater industry when it comes to this topic. Anyone who's spent time on a Local 1 crew can tell you that.
One of the first replies on Twitter to their statement was challenging them to stand up to the AFL CIO, who has very strong relationships with police unions. The real question is if their statement of support will amount to much or if it's astroturf.

@BillConnerFASTC, I don't know that anyone has a perfect answer for this because it's a complicated problem going back several hundred years, but on the legislative side here's my wish lish, in no particular order except the first one — through which all others would actually become possible:
  1. Eliminate police unions from restricting accountability and discipline procedures. If they want to lobby for working conditions, hours, and benefits like an ordinary labor union go for it but they cannot have a role in deciding how police are disciplined.
  2. Create community oversight systems.
  3. Provide longer recruit training.
  4. Provide threat assessment, ROE, and de-escalation training like our military receives.
  5. Establish nationwide use of force, officer complaints, and termination database. Like a dishonorable discharge from the military, a police officer terminated for abusing use of force or similarly egregious behavior should not be able to pop up at another department 50 miles away.
  6. Improve consistency and application of where and how body cams are used and and what happens to officers found skirting such policies.
  7. Mandate officers must live within x minutes or miles from their place of work to ensure officers are members of the communities they serve.
  8. Ban any regional calamity of jail policies that may incentivize bad behavior like those jail where the Sheriff gets $x,xxx,xxx for inmate meals but gets to personally take home the balance of whatever’s left in that budget at the end of that fiscal cycle. (Can’t remember if that in Arizona or in Louisiana/Mississippi I heard about that insane policy)
  9. Eliminate or vastly reduce the scale of bail programs. Bail is essentially a tax on poor people and minorities. DC’s cashless bail program has been in place since 1992 and they save $400MM a year by not having to pay to house inmates who are eligible for pre-trial release but who cannot afford it.
  10. Whatever other good ideas there may be out there.
There’s no silver bullet that will solve everything but pulling hard on many different levers all at once can help level the playing field and fundamentally change America’s relationship with law enforcement.
 
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MNicolai

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I'm creating a separate post for what has settled in with me over the last couple days, because I don't want it buried in other minutia.

Passively waiting for the situation to improve by letting black and brown people stage this fight on their own won't be enough. A ton of people on the sidelines who don't feel its their place to have a voice in this conversation ensures the movement will not gain much traction -- certainly not the amount required to produce widespread change. If you don't feel you understand what needs to happen, spend an hour or two poking around on Google or asking your minority friends -- there isn't an absence of perspective on the matter if you spend a small amount of time looking for it.

Not everyone's going to agree or have a perfect understanding of the landscape or other peoples' perspective, but that doesn't mean you can't show up for the conversation and play an active role in it.

Personally, I've made some donations and started putting wheels in motion through my corporate food chain to gauge what we can be doing in communities we serve. Maybe that's advocating for legislation or maybe it's developing community outreach programs to get schools in minority neighborhoods excited about science and engineering. What I sure hope it's not though is a momentary press release sign of support without any long term impact.
 

RonHebbard

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) There’s no silver bullet that will solve everything but pulling hard on many different levers all at once can help level the playing field and fundamentally change America’s relationship with law enforcement.
@MNicolai Can a resident from north of lil' Donnie's wall suggest that voting is where to aim your first silver bullet?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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MNicolai

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@MNicolai Can a resident from north of lil' Donnie's wall suggest that voting is where to aim your first silver bullet?
If you're making a suggestion that Trump is part of the problem, he is, but I suspect his impact on it is marginal in the bigger picture. He's probably set our race relations back a few years but we could have a democratic senate, house, and presidency like we may have this fall and it wouldn't fundamentally change much for race relations and policing. Police unions have a grip on lobbying that's only paralleled by the NRA, big oil, and big pharma. If democrats or anyone are going to effectively move the needle on this subject, it will only be because of overwhelming public demand -- which is why we can't leave our black and brown community members to fight this battle on their own. They will need us to speak up too.
 
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TimMc

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^^^ This.

For a YooToob rabbit hole worthy of pursuit I suggest becoming acquainted with Jane Elliott (search hint) and if you've got the time, watch the PBS Frontline doc "A Class Divided". If you need the Reader's Digest version, "Eye of the Storm" from Xerox Films in 1970. Jane is still alive and working at age 82 and was a guest on Jimmy Fallon last night. She pioneered the "blue eyes/brown eyes" segregation/discrimination exercise and has honed it since.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Eliminate police unions from restricting accountability and discipline procedures. If they want to lobby for working conditions, hours, and benefits like an ordinary labor union go for it but they cannot have a role in deciding how police are disciplined.
Why just police? Why not all unions or at least all unions for civil service?
 
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BillConnerFASTC

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MNicolai

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I look at it from the perspective that law enforcement is generally an extension of the executive branch and must be subject to the checks and balances of the people, other branches, and the executive. Right now, there are a lot of mayors who cannot hold their police departments accountable in any meaningful way nor can local judicial branches. Police have wide, often enough unchecked discretion to act as judge and jury, blurring the lines between the responsibilities and scope of each branch, and at times preventing other branches from being able to exercise their own authority. Policing will always require officers be able to exercise discretion in how they enforce laws -- but that discretion needs to fit within a framework of accountability so enforcement is applied equally across demographics.

Other civil service groups don't really fit into a particular governmental branch where we fundamentally depend on those kinds of checks and balances for our civil rights so it's not be appropriate to apply the same policies to them in a blanket fashion. They should still be accountable to their municipalities because it's our tax dollars at work but efficiency of municipal services is much more of a local matter whereas constitutional rights and protections are universal anywhere in the country.