I spent the better part of my academic career studying a dance style that shaped me as a student and professional; an artist and performer. After countless conversations with other dancers, and with myself, it’s become clear to me how the beautiful ballet-world I love needs to change now.

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

Ballet taught me strength, showed me the breadth of humanity’s beauty, and made me a masochist. My privilege as a male in the artform shielded me from the stressors that may have otherwise bore an eating disorder, but it didn’t shield me from constantly criticizing my body. Or questioning my self-worth in school and company cultures that never gave me the full story. For all the genuine good that dance offers to both audiences and performers, ballet has a huge problem with communication, a lack of which is costing dancers their physical and mental health.

Oh, and don’t even get…

At the beginning of October, I contracted COVID-19, and it almost certainly came from my trip to the 2020 Commitment March in Washington DC. This is my story.

Photo by Parker Miller on Unsplash

I have been sitting on this for a while, since I wasn’t sure if I had anything to add to the “viral” narrative. I took every precaution during my travel. I saw no friends. Sat at no restaurants. Even convinced my sister not to join me from NYC to minimize points of geographical contact. By the time I returned to Massachusetts, I’d only encountered a single other person.

I still got it.

Honestly, I was a little scared. I’ve carried pretty nasty asthma my entire life, so I knew if this got bad, it could then get worse. I reflected…

Photo by Claudio Schwarz Purzlbaum on Unsplash

“If we- and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others- do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world” — James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”

A few weeks ago, my relatively conscious readers, and so many more of us still in the midst of self-transformation, you and I figured out with whom in discussions of justice we could most…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

To non-BIPOC advocates with sincere appreciation, thank you. Perhaps you don’t think that you deserve gratitude, and to this I might agree. Still, I, as a black male weighed down by the incessant burden of marginalization, give to you who help us lift even a fraction of this historical mass my thanks. For practicing actionable mindsets. For genuinely educating yourself on the black life struggle. For putting your money, in both behavior and organization, where your mouth is. You are reworking white identity in real-time, and so, one last time, I thank you. Now, as we move forward, I want…

I, a young black male living in the United States, am pushing myself to engage for the sake of communities and friends dear to my heart. What is happening is not okay. Many of you, especially non-black ally hopefuls, know that what’s happening is not okay, but don’t know what to do. Maybe you’re paralyzed by your own insecurities, afraid that you won’t be accepted, or simply don’t know how to get involved. If you fit any of these descriptions, or maybe you’re just curious, please. read. on. …

Jackson Jirard

Harvard Graduate School of Education Alum, Artistic Performer, Black Psych Enthusiast

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