What do we do if a guy assaults someone outside of dancing; can we (ethically) ban him from our dances if he didn’t break our code of conduct at our events?
First: of course we can, ethically.
Secondly: it’s important to think about hate crimes (and I include rape here) as working not just as individual instances (eg raping someone; beating someone). A ‘hate crime’ isn’t just the single instance of violence. It is the culmination or total sum of a number of moving pieces.
So when I ban someone for ‘stalking’, I’m banning them for the total sum of their behaviours, which may only include ‘not taking no for an answer to dance invites’ and ‘dominates a young woman dancer’s time’ happening in dance spaces, but also include ‘constant fb messages’, ‘lewd comments’, ‘constantly pushing boundaries’, and other things in non-dance spaces.
I expand my idea of ‘dance community’ from just ‘dance spaces’ (dance halls, classes, weekend events) to social and cultural spaces. I look at behaviour not as single incidents, but as the _relationship between acts_.
So, in the context of racist hate talk, we can ethically ban someone from our dance events even if they’re very careful not to to use racist slurs or beat anyone up at dances.
We can do this by:
– Expanding our idea of what constitutes ‘dance community’ from ‘dance spaces’ to lots of other spaces: online, face to face, the parking lot outside the studio, the train home from the party, the carpool to dinner before dancing, etc. This then expands our network of personal responsibility: we owe our dance buds a duty of care, even when they’re not dancing.
– Seeing ‘racism’ not just as individual incidents like using a racist slur, but as a pattern of incidents, and the _relationship_ between incidents.
So it’s not the individual actions we call out, it’s the patterns of behaviour that we call out. And that means that we need to get specific. We need to learn how to identify and record the ‘tricky’ stuff we can’t see or measure:
– What was that joke that was borderline? Write it down, record it. How did it make people feel? What was the ratio of black:white people in the room?
– What sort of things does that person share on their fb page? Who do they tag in discussions?
….and so on. We need to be able to articulate why we feel uncomfortable about someone.
We have had to do that with sexual harassment and assault. And that is just like racism, in that it’s about people using power to control or manipulate or degrade other people.
Maybe that means it is time to stop dancing.
To be honest, dancing itself covers a multitude of sins. All that adrenaline and endorphins and social
manoeuvring can mess with our powers of observation.