Here at the Ottawa Swing Dance Society, we recognize we are on unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation and are committed to anti-Black racism work, and to making our space inclusive to all.
Lindy Hop is a Black American dance that was created at the end of the 1920s in Harlem, NYC and it is danced to jazz, a genre of music also created by Black Americans and deeply linked to anti-racist resistance and Black liberation. As lovers of these amazing dance and music, we have a responsibility to listen to and support anti-racist and Black American voices and communities, but also as people, it is important to act in solidarity in the face of oppression and for justice to help create a more just society for all: yesterday, today and tomorrow.
To paraphrase Audre Lorde: We are not free while any person is unfree, even when their shackles are very different from our own.
As much as a break from the daily realities with a weekly dance is needed, it is a privilege to be able to take one. Black people and people of colour don’t have the luxury to take a break from racism.
So let’s take this moment to educate ourselves and take action!
FEATURED RESOURCES IN CANADA
The Skin We're In (44 min)
Description: Urgent, controversial, and undeniably honest, The Skin We’re In is a wake-up call to complacent Canadians. Racism is here. It is everywhere. It is us and we are it. Following celebrated journalist Desmond Cole as he researches his hotly anticipated book, this documentary from acclaimed director Charles Officer pulls back the curtain on racism in Canada.
ANTI RACISM RESOURCES
This was compiled after the screening of the film The Skin We’re In and discussion on anti-racism with swing dancers on unceded Algonquin land (Ottawa) in June 2020, and is regularly updated. It is not an exhaustive list and is mainly focused on anti-Black racism and Black liberation in Canada and the US due to the Black origins of swing dancing. Il y a quelques ressources en français sur le Québec à la fin. Feel free to share so we can all learn and act to create a more just swing community and society. Thanks!
UP COMMING EVENTS
Take Karida Griffith’s AMAZING 6-week program for teachers on how to integrate anti-racism in dance classes (write her via her website to be added to her mailing list or follow her Facebook or Instagram to know when she’s giving it again next)
DONATE IF YOU CAN
SOME NOTES FROM A COMMUNITY DISCUSSION ON JUNE 6TH 2020
WHAT CN WE DO IN THE SWING COMMUNITY?
Hire more Black teachers, musicians and DJs
Create safer spaces for Black people - with policies including language and protocols to deal with racism, microaggressions, with talks around cultural appropriation, etc.
Integrate the Black American history and culture of swing and jazz in all classes (specific values, relationality, pedagogy and aesthetics) and host separate talks specifically about Black history (as much as possible hosted by paid Black experts)
Host vintage clips online events with historical context and a critical perspective (like folks at the Side Street Swing studio have done)
Talking about the music and musicians between songs when DJing (people can wait a bit between songs and learn!)
Post about the history of swing and jazz as well as anti-racism resources on websites and on social media - if you love this music and dance, it’s important to care for the communities it comes from, and for social justice in general, since swing is a dance rooted in resistance and Black liberation. Here is a good resource to start with: http://www.yehoodi.com/
Projecting & posting images and videos of Black dancers and musicians with names and dates on a wall or screen during dances
Create small libraries at swing venues: someone suggested to read Babylon Girls by Jayna Brown