Petition is successful with 3,163 signatures
To: Burning Man Board of Directors
Radical Inclusion Must Mean Racial Inclusion
I wanted to share some good news in the midst of some truly challenging times. Thanks to you and more than 3000 others who joined our campaign last Summer, the Burning Man organization has started to take tangible steps to acknowledge and address the reality of its problem of whiteness and lack of diversity, with Black people only making up 1% of its participants.
Last week ahead of the virtual Burning Man experience, which is now underway, the organization published a commitment to address it’s racial diversity, including anti-racism training for year-round staff and a commitment to increase BIPOC event access.
While we’re loudly applauding their first step, we know that change requires vigilance and love--sometimes sweet and sometimes tough. And we’re here for it. We want Burning Man to be what we believe it can be. This is an important step for Burning Man and our community, and given Burning Man’s prominence, this action will have reverberations in the arts culture at large.
We didn’t do this alone and aside from the petition effort, several Burners played key roles in bringing this to be. Part of what we did was provide a framework for concrete action, and we created the space for others to join this radical resistance. From staff members to theme camp leaders to long time white Burners, many heard our demands for equity and were inspired to act.
For my camp, Que Viva Camp, a camp of BIPOC social justice activists, this is a welcome moment. We were on the ground last year at Burning Man organizing other camps around the issue of inclusion; we led a petition delivery on the Playa and shared our stories as Black and brown Burners; and we led the first major Black Lives Matter march at Burning Man and disrupted business as usual. You can hear our story in a radio podcast on KALW, a well known San Francisco Bay Area radio station available online at https://www.kalw.org/post/ep-09-black-lives-matter-meets-black-rock-city-burning-man#stream/0 , and if you miss it it will be available later in the archives.
We created this campaign because we are committed to Black joy, and we believe that all cultural institutions must do more to include and welcome Black people. One of the founding principles of Burning Man is Radical Inclusion. But there can be no radical inclusion without racial inclusion. Black people have shaped the foundation of American culture and deserve to be included in the best of global culture. We know that the health of Black communities is not just defined by the things we don’t want, but also by the things we DO want. Black people deserve spaces for play, relaxation and exploration.
With these actions, Burning Man has aligned itself to a future where cultural spaces are more accessible, welcoming and inclusive of Black people.
Favianna, Marlon, Erica, Daniel and members of Que Viva Camp