It’s difficult to find words to describe how precious breath is. For the last year, we’ve heard heart-wrenching testimony from health care professionals as they watched their patients struggle to breathe. “I’ll never take each breath for granted again,” Ashley Crumpler, Critical Care Nurse from Atlanta, said. We saw George Floyd struggle to breathe as a police officer charged with protecting us, knelt on his neck and crushed the breath out of him. “I can’t breathe,” are words we cannot, and should not, forget.
The pandemic has ripped away the band-aid of civility and exposed the raw wound of systemic racism institutionalized in our legal, political, and financial systems. It began with the colonization of Native Americans and continued through government sanctioned slavery, discrimination, and xenophobia.
What can a small opera company do about this? What can we say when words are inadequate? I think we can do what we were created to do: To bear witness through making opera; to transmute pain into catharsis.
White Snake Projects recommits wholly and truly to continue to make opera that is unafraid to confront the injustices, large and small, in America today. We pledge to continue to elevate the voices of BIPOC creators and artists. We vow to continue exploring new ways of making opera which transforms a white, Eurocentric, male dominated art form into one that reflects the beautiful and powerful diversity that is America. We reaffirm our passion to make work that revolutionizes how we view marginalized communities. We rededicate ourselves to creating opera that may not sit comfortably with established norms and to change the status quo. We resolve to tell stories that move people to action, to expose, clarify, and uplift us all to social justice goals.
Please take a moment to breathe deeply. We are lucky to be alive and to be able to try to change the world.