Review: Creating Safer Spaces in the Music Community @ Fools & Horses (part of the Big Fun Festival/Manitoba Music)
Moderator: Jen Zoratti
Panelists: Alexa Potashnik, Jodie Layne, Tyler Sneesby, Ashley Au, Uzoma Asagwara and Leonard Sumner
I came home from this discussion and Googled which Aboriginal tribe’s land my house is built on. Then I sat with my head in my hands in front of my computer.
I don’t know how to write about this. These aren’t my experiences.
I went to this discussion because I’m a white female who frequents music venues in this city alone. I do this more often than most and I don’t always feel completely safe doing so. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I came away with a better understanding of the vastness of this issue.
The discussion started with defining safe spaces and what the challenges are in creating them.
Uzoma mentioned the difficulty marginalized people face in accessing space for events when they don’t own space.
Leonard talked about giving up his feelings of being in a safe space to combat racism.
Ashley recommended creating a directory of safe spaces in the city (Uzoma, I sincerely hope you create this app).
Tyler spoke about getting over biases and being open enough to accept criticism. He also spoke about the House Rules at The Good Will Social Club and how it holds the owners of that venue accountable.
Uzoma talked about the backlash that exists for minorities who call out well established venues for being unsafe for everyone. Instead of reacting defensively, she recommended venues see it as a “free consultation” because it’s for their benefit.
At this point, I stopped writing notes. I felt like it was important to just listen. Really listen.
As the panellists were talking, I scanned myself to figure out if I was experiencing any discomfort or defensiveness. That would be a clear indication I needed to spend some time with those ideas.
Over and over, I was drawn to Leonard Sumner. I’ve never heard of him before and I don’t know anything about his music, but he answered questions and offered advice that seemed wise beyond his years.
I can’t relate to the struggles he’s gone through being an Anishinaabe man, but his opinions and stories really touched me and I could have listened to him for hours. I was particularly stuck by his comment that this is his homeland, but there are no spaces created for him.
This discussion opened my eyes to the fact there are bigger problems out there than mine. Due to my place in society (white privileged) I can attend almost every show I want. I can go to pretty much any venue I choose and while I may feel unsafe at times doing this alone, with a group of friends I’d probably feel perfectly safe.
But that’s just not the case for marginalized people. Which means this problem of creating safe spaces for everyone is MUCH bigger than just installing a gender neutral bathroom; although, gender neutral bathrooms are one step in that process.
I left feeling quite heavy and wondering what I can realistically do about this. I went to this discussion because it was relevant to me and came away with the realization that what’s relevant to me, is far more pressing for others.
Maybe I did what I can do, right now. I showed up, I listened and I learned. I’m more aware. That doesn’t feel like enough, but it’ll have to be enough for tonight.
Tomorrow, I’m going to write a post about concrete ways to stay safe at specific music venues in Winnipeg. It’s what I know and what I practice. I’m hoping it’ll be helpful to those who are considering going to a show alone.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters