COMMUNITY VOICES | The Miss Saigon discussion | A case study in institutionalized racism

On Tuesday, October 29th, the Don’t Buy Miss Saigon Coalition and other community members met with leaders of local and national institutions and The Ordway Center for Performing Arts for what the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, having received a $10,000 grant from the Saint Paul Foundation for this issue, presented as a case study on building allies and the musical Miss Saigon. I have great respect for the Wilder Foundation and I’d been tentatively optimistic about the evening even after a series of failed meetings so far this year – I was looking forward to engaging in discussion with arts funders on concrete solutions to the currently existing situation. (I call it a situation with the hope that our work together will resolve the issues and prevent future generations from referring to it as a fiasco.) I assume that these institutions want to fall on the right side of history, and as a member of the Don’t Buy Miss Saigon Coalition I showed up that night to talk about what that could mean. Instead, I was compelled to participate in an exercise which physically demonstrated the extra hurdles that various marginalized communities face on their way to The American Dream. Our surprise anti-racism training involved a series of questions that, when asked, prompted listeners standing in a horizontal line together to either step forward or backward depending on their respective responses. Continue Reading