Statement of Diversity and Inclusion

 

My personal experience and professional goals both aim towards ensuring diverse perspectives are heard, seen, and practiced within the classroom. I have experience teaching within a range of settings, including diverse class populations at California State University, Long Beach (where

68% of students identify as People Of Color) and with recently released ex-convicts at the California State Capitol’s Anti-Recidivism Coalition. When I am teaching, my classes aim to create spaces where all bodies are seen as equally important and significant within a world whose ever growing neoliberal digital culture continues to benefit exclusionary, racist, and patriarchal power structures. 

 

My personal familial background is one that includes a mix of European and Native American heritage. I am a white skinned woman, who cannot claim any experience of racial exclusion, however, my family is a perfect example of the problematic repercussions of colonialism. My Cherokee great grandmother was taught by her parents to forget her heritage in search of a better life. She left her family as a teenager to be raised by an Irish, Christian family, then later met and married my great grandfather and never looked back. While I have memories of learning to use her old mortar and pestle and hearing stories of how to live more fluidly with nature, her past is otherwise gone. My understanding of this loss is what leads me to believe strongly that all traditions deserve a chance to have their stories told, and to always give space within my classes for students to share their own diverse stories and histories. 

 

Furthermore, as a woman who has spent a significant amount of her life travelling, I have  experienced feelings of otherness through the troubling gendered dynamics that fuel the systems of power in 21st-century culture. I have watched as individuals around me have been treated differently based on the assumptions of their gender and sexuality and have felt what it is like to be the disempowered “other.” These experiences lead me to the strong belief that all persons, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sex, or identity hold equal value and deserve to be treated equally.

 

We all move in life. In my courses, I use movement as a kind of conceptual, emotional, and kinesthetic knowledge that can create embodied change. When we are together, dancing, I give my students agency to feel the value of their personal body and the bodies of all those that surround them while embracing the differences that make each participant unique. My classes strive to give students an empowered understanding of their daily movement experiences and attempt to show that no matter how you move, how you look, where you come from, or how you identify, your body’s unique understanding of movement is of equal value. 

 

In somatic and improvisation courses I give each of my students the space and time to experience which movements feel best for them and guide discussions around the value their bodies hold for each personally and to the community as a whole. When teaching at the Anti Recidivism Coalition, I focused not on what the movements looked like, but the validity of feeling good in the body as we moved inclusively together. By moving together as a community, sourcing inspiration from each other, our diverse cultures, and dance backgrounds we were able to relate under this one unifying theme and democratize around it. 

 

Through teaching dance, I give room for individuals to not only read about and view differing perspectives, but to also come together to experience, embody, and talk about them communally. Through these teaching methods, I aim to create more inclusive kinesthetic awareness where any and all bodies understand their equal importance as they move forward through life.