Undoing Racism, November 2020

"The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated." 


"The purpose of education…is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions." 


"Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black."


—James Baldwin

The above quotes were shared at our Undoing Racism October meeting by Bill Bauer, in response to my request for folks to bring articles, stories, questions or quotes to share and generate discussion. Thanks, Bill!

For several years in the 90’s, I worked in collaboration with another dancer/choreographer, Celeste Miller, on an arts-in-healthcare project with nurses and other medical professionals. We conducted workshops where we facilitated writing, storytelling, and movement/choreography, culminating in performances, sometimes just the two of us with other professional performers, sometimes with the nurses and medical professionals themselves. 

As the participants readied to dive into free-style writing, Celeste would say “I share with you two things to consider: “1. From Jack Kerouac: “First thought, best thought;” 2. From Pearl Cleage, feminist, separatist, “First thought, slave thought.” I invite you to hold both of these as you write.”

I think about this comment frequently and it affirms for me having patience with the paradoxes that arise while looking at racism and white privilege.

We continue to meet via Zoom on the last Sunday of each month. We began our last session with a short “bodymind check-in”/one-minute pause and ended with a reading from Rev. angel Kyodo Williams (via her Facebook page):

part 2. love letter to beloved black bodies + heart instructions for those who choose to receive them.


let the folks that can’t know how this lands in and on our bodies do the work of reclaiming their humanity until they realize this pain lays violence on our bodies, but ignored and unchecked, whiteness consumes their spirit, their wholeness, and integrity as human beings. 


until white folks feel their guts wrench them out of pervasive confusion and into their bodies to show up beyond the obsession with personal safety and getting it right that is whiteness personified, they are the bulwark to white supremacy that got this man and every black brown indigenous devalued body killed.


white folks, you might not know what to "do" about it, but you can start by feeling which is where all wisdom of what to do when you don't know what to do comes from.


if you don't have access to that, now you have a place to start your work from. get comfortable with that discomfort. 


in the meantime, give a shit.
feel helpless outrage.
take a risk.
get it wrong.
offend someone. 


make beloved all black bodies. 


—Rev. angel Kyodo williams

I resonate with “white folks, you might not know what to “do” about it, but you can start by feeling which is where all wisdom of what to do when you don’t know what to do comes from.”  

Please consider joining us, and bring your ideas, stories, questions, quotes, etc. The next meeting is November 29, 10:00 am Eastern Standard Time.

About Dawn Pratson

Dawn Pratson earned her Dalcroze license in 2004, and was the founding music specialist at the Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School in Philadelphia from 2005-2015. She is a musician (flute, piano, voice) and modern/contemporary dancer and choreographer. She taught Dalcroze Eurhythmics at the University of the Arts and Temple University and teaches workshops around the U.S. and abroad.