Today Collabyrinth principal consultant Melvin Bray challenged an elite group of thought leaders and public speakers to be courageous by adopting the use of a “Consciousness Rider” as a way to encourage program organizers to pursue beloved community. Riders are additional stipulations beyond fees for service or property that programmers must meet if they want a speaker, band or artist to fulfill a contract.

Producers of public events have no reason to do better, unless talent and consumers insist they do better. This is one way to do so. If you make your living in front of an audience, leave a comment, committing to use the Consciousness Rider. Stop being satisfied with being the diversity in the room. Don’t give your credibility away to spaces that make minimal effort to value historically marginalized people. Insist on the change you want to see in the world. The world will be better because you did.

Consciousness Rider

Unless the purpose of the gathering is specifically to problem-solve toward these very ends, I will only participate in gatherings where:

  • No less than 30% of the rest of those who present are people of color (across the racial/ethnic spectrum); no less than 50% of those who present are women; no less than 10%, identify as lgbtq. I encourage intentionality be given to the age, faith, disability and national origin demographics in the room as well. The purpose of this is to normalize a gathering dynamic in western culture that is more indicative of the world in which we actually live.
  • A similar level of inclusion shows up at every stage and on every platform: from the planning to the execution, from the main stage to the plenaries, from the art to books to social media. The purpose for this is to institutionalize one’s commitment to pursuing beloved community.
  • UPDATE! Participation and vending discounts be offered to persons with historically marginalized identities underrepresented in a project. Contracts (or even equity stake in the endeavor) be offered to persons with historically marginalized identities underrepresented in the project who are engaged to help organize the project for greater accessibility. The purpose of this is to make tangible the reality that being pioneers (one of a few) in a space not originally conceived or designed with accessibility in mind is LABOR and should be affirmed as such. Historically, the general assumption has been that people pushed to the margins who want to see themselves in more spaces would themselves do the work to make that possible. Such a dynamic furthers the supremacist logic that created inequity, monoculture, and exclusion (hegemony) in the first place.
  • Any social identity discussed is represented by someone of that identity. The purpose of this is to make normative people’s right to tell their own stories.
  • If the gathering is talking about land in anyway, indigenous people are a part of the conversation. The purpose of this is to give ear to the wisdom long marginalized of those whose relationship with the land has proven itself most sustainable over the longest period of time.
  • An articulated intentionality is given to functioning in an eco-friendly manner. The purpose of this is to acknowledge our inability to become our best selves at the expense of the rest of the biosphere.
  • Intentionality is given toward establishing a democratic learning environment that honors multiple learning modalities and doesn’t just privilege “the sage on the stage”. The purpose of this is to do what matters in ways that matter.

I am always open to exploring the possibilities of engagement with any community willing to make these commitments. And should that community desire to move this direction, but just don’t know how to begin, I am willing to help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *