It’s been 6 days since my horrible mistake regarding the use of an offensive word in a theatre review. If you aren’t aware of my blunder, this letter isn’t for you. If you know exactly what I’m talking about, please take a moment to read this.
I’ve spent a lot of time in contemplation of my error. As a writer, I know the power of words. And the wrong one at the wrong time is bad enough. My mistake wasn’t timing, it was utilization. The word I used wasn’t and is not mine to use. My intent was a poetic illustration of the play’s rhythm but it was perceived as a savage attack on a group of people. Instead of connecting people to a powerful play, it fueled rage brought on by my ignorance and drew attention to the power of a word that has a long history of hate and division. And I found myself, for the first time in my life, seen as a perpetrator of hate.
A lot of you don’t know me but that is not who I am. I’m a person who champions marginalized populations, advocates for people who can’t find their voice and believes being kind is THE most important contribution an individual can make in life.
I ask you to forgive me for my short-sighted understanding of the damage I could do with one word. I’m not asking for you to forgive and forget. I know I won’t forget. The response to my review will change me and challenge me to work to be a better person.
I have decided to take a break from theatre reviewing…at least for the summer. I would never want a theatre company to feel ashamed or embarrassed to invite or un-invite me to a show or have an actor feel that s/he could not perform because I was attending. My intent, as a reviewer, has always been, and always will be, to promote theatre and all the talent in the Chicago theatre community. If I don’t return as a reviewer, I’ll find other ways to support theatre.
During this summer, I will be having conversations with others about this issue and others. I invite anyone to have coffee or a drink with me this summer to talk more. I believe real change comes from individuals coming together and talking. If you are interested in helping me bridge divides and build understanding, please, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.