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A message from the Austin Bellydance Association Board of Directors & Elected Officers:

Over the past three weeks, we have seen protests in every state and around the world as a result of the killing of George Floyd and, more broadly, the systemic racism faced daily by black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). The Austin Bellydance Association stands in solidarity with our members, our community, BIPOC, and #blacklivesmatter.

As an arts organization, the purpose of the Austin Bellydance Association includes providing a common meeting ground for people interested in bellydance, to expand knowledge of bellydance as an art form, as well as to serve, educate, and benefit our local dance community. We recognize that more deliberate action is needed to serve our members more equitably and inclusively, particularly for local BIPOC bellydancers, who may not feel represented or heard in our community.

These protests and the horrific tragedies that led to them require us to voice our wholehearted support for BIPOC in our community who are suffering. Many feel exhaustion, hopelessness, grief, and fear, and we must stand alongside them and demand change. Bellydance is a beautiful art form that brings our members so much joy, but we must also reflect and act on issues of lack of representation for BIPOC dancers, cultural appropriation, and many other forms of racial injustice that remain present in the bellydance community, locally and globally.


While things can feel hopeless in this moment of such turmoil, there are things we can do to support BIPOC and fight racial injustice, both within the bellydance community and in the communities where we live:

  • Reach out to support BIPOC dancers you may know, but be mindful that this is an emotionally trying time for many of them and they may not feel ready to engage with you

  • Seek resources about white privilege, implicit bias, and systemic racism throughout our country’s history (below are some links that you may find helpful)

  • Educate yourself about the cultures of origin of bellydance--countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) region--and how to engage in our dance respectfully, while remaining aware of cultural appropriation

  • If you host bellydance events and workshops, seek to broaden the representation of dancers in our diverse community (see Ahava’s lecture on black representation in bellydance here)

  • Donate to nonprofit organizations active in racial justice and ending police violence

  • Recognize that advancing racial equity and justice takes self-reflection, work, and time


The Austin Bellydance Association Board of Directors and Elected Officers will be taking the following steps to ensure that our organizational structure and policies are non-discriminatory.

  • Review of Bylaws and Standing Rules

  • Redirect the focus of our September event to promote equity within our organization and in the bellydance community at large


Resources:


Betsi “Bahaia” Robins, president

Lily Tsai, vice president

Chris “Najla” Bailey, treasurer

Stacey Lizette, secretary

Thais Macedo, editor

Phillip Shurtleff, association agent


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