1,000 signatures reached
To: Burning Man Board of Directors
Radical Inclusion Must Mean Racial Inclusion
Burning Man is one of the largest arts nonprofits in the world and a cultural organization founded on the principles of radical inclusion and civic engagement. Yet Black people and other people of color are significantly underrepresented in this temporary desert city of 75,000 people. From 2013-2018, Black burners represented 1% or less of attendees.
We urge the Board of Directors of Burning Man Project to take action now:
- Institute comprehensive anti-racism training for the entire board and staff;
- Make an explicit commitment to increase the attendance of people of color at the Burning Man event and develop a short and long term implementation plan
- Recruit people of color to join their Board of Directors;
- Create recruitment initiatives to increase people of color applicants for leadership positions within the organization
- Support current leaders of color, within the Burning Man community, through incubation strategies designed to increase participation
- Take a stand against the cooptation of culture, especially indigenous culture
Why is this important?
Burning Man is one of the most well known cultural gatherings in the world that takes place in a temporary city where everything is provided and shaped by its citizens. Because of this, Burning Man is not only a space of artistic expression and personal transformation, but also a space to learn new skills and strategies for building communities. Burning Man is praised globally for it’s dynamic urban design and joyful artistic culture, yet has done little to address the question of racial inclusion and equity.
Burning Man Project says that their mission is to “move Burning Man culture beyond the playa,” and that they “believe it’s more important than ever to ensure Black Rock City is the strongest possible manifestation” of their ethos. As Burning Man continues to expand it’s broad cultural imprint and influence, Black people and people of color must be a part of that vision.
Radical inclusion means racial inclusion. For over five years, Burning Man has known it has a shamefully low attendance of Black people and other people of color. Despite pressure from Burners of color who have raised the issue of racial diversity, Burning Man Project’s staff leadership and Board of Directors has failed to take decisive action, even at a time when more and more cultural organizations are adopting strategies for equity and inclusion. When a 33-year-old institution does not confront racism and inequality directly, they are contributing to the problem by their implicit support of the status quo.
The Burning Man event has been a transformative experience for me over the last seven years. As the daughter of immigrants who grew up in a working-class Black and Latinx community, I witnessed severe inequality as a child and hateful anti-immigrant sentiments toward my family. I wanted to be an artist since I was a child, yet the culture around me did not reflect people who looked like me. Representation in cultural spaces matters, and cultural organizations must ensure that they create environments where all feel welcome. At my first Burn, I felt a great sense of freedom and creative expression that I had never felt before, and I instantly knew that I wanted other leaders of color to experience Burning Man because the event’s transformative nature can help us imagine solutions for society at large.
Join me today in urging the Board of Directors to live up to the principle of Radical Inclusion and actively fight institutional racism through true racial inclusion.
For more information, please read my open letter to Burning Man Project’s Board of Directors sent in May 2019, visit: bit.ly/radical_inclusion
How it will be delivered
We will deliver the signatures to the Burning Man Board of Directors and Staff Leadership.