Race & Circus

This list is a compilation of resources we’ve come across recently. Please email info@americancircuseducators.org if you have anything to add!

The Uncle Junior Project
Uncle Junior Project is a community-driven documentary series that gives people the opportunity to learn, celebrate, and take pride in the inspiring history of blacks in the American circus.

BCAM – BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest
The BIPOC Circus Alliance Midwest (BCAM) is a collective of circus practitioners and performing artists dedicated to creating more supportive, inclusive, and representative circus communities by:
1) Advocating for equity and inclusion in training, teaching, and performance spaces
2) Partnering with circus organizations to implement policy changes designed to increase BIPOC representation and inclusion within customers/students and staff
3) Celebrating and amplifying BIPOC stories in circus
4) Creating community, support, and mutual positive encouragement for BIPOC circus practitioners and performers

Fly Black Aerialists
Featuring Men & women of African Decent/Black who practice in world of aerial arts on Instagram and Facebook

CSAW (Circus Students Around the World) Microgrants
Microgrants are available for circus artists of color to pay for circus education (private lessons, tuition fees, audition expenses, etc) or other circus pursuits – shows, videos, any project that has an immediate need for funding and meets the application criteria. Grantees are chosen through an application process and reviewed by a selection committee composed entirely of circus artists of color. CSAW provides one microgrant each month. APPLY HERE!

UniverSOUL Circus
King Charles Unicycle Troupe

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultants List
A list of consultants circus organizations may want to hire to guide and lead antiracism and DEI trainings and initiatives. Compiled by Caroline Calouche of Charlotte Cirque and Dance Center.

Artistes of Colour: Ethnic Diversity and Representation in the Victoria Circus
A book by Dr. Steve Ward, available through Modern Vaudeville Press. Description: We live in a society that places an increasing value in ethnic diversity and cultural identity. However, the contribution that performers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds made to the development of the circus in the nineteenth century is very often overlooked and largely forgotten. Pablo Fanque and Miss La La may be notable names of the period but there were many others besides. Using contemporary records and images, this book explores the wealth and depth of talented black and other ethnic performers, and the contribution they made to the success of the nineteenth century circus. These are iconic figures who should be drawn in from the margins of history and given the recognition they deserve.

Black Performers of the Nineteenth Century Circus
An informative article celebrating the lives of several black circus performers from social historian Dr. Steve Ward.

FemPower Acro Online Trainings & Discussions
Online courses in social justice, allyship, and acro! www.JusticeMovement.org
“If you want to do the work, we want to work with you!” 

CircusTalk Panels – Wake Up Call for Inclusion
CircusTalk Panel Wake Up Call for Inclusion 01 – Institutional Barriers and Individual Biases in the Performing Arts
The first episode of Wake Up Call for Inclusion is an intimate conversation with circus artists of color about their personal experiences in the industry.

CircusTalk Panel Wake Up Call for Inclusion 02 – The Change
Looking for answers to questions like: Why organizations and companies are tiptoeing around authentic conversations and dialogues about race and inclusion? What is white fragility and how does it affect the institutional dynamics in the performing arts? What it really means to be a White ally in the performing arts infrastructure and what BIPOC expect from these allies to ignite meaningful changes? What are the institutional barriers and cultural stereotypes that prevent the presence of more BIPOC artists, creators and administrators in the circus arts sector? How can we create greater race consciousness at the workplace on and off stage in the circus industry?

CircusTalk Panel Wake Up Call for Inclusion 03: Institutional Barriers and Individual Biases in the Performing Arts for Women of Color
We explore how women of color in the performing arts, specifically in the circus industry, experience life at the intersection of race and gender. By examining historical instances of systemic racism, examples of microaggressions, and systemic incidences and policies in the performing arts which lead to exclusion, we will explore some action items for improving inclusivity for women of color in our sector.

CircusTalk Panel Wake Up Call for Inclusion 04 – Geopolitical Context of Institutional Barriers and Individual Biases in the Performing Arts
In this discussion, featuring a diverse group of panelists from the five continents of the World, we intend to explore the geopolitical characteristics of inclusion  (be it racial, ethnic, or gender) and its effect and manifestation in the circus arts. Our panelists were asked to give a short presentation of the root cause of racial, ethnic  or gender inequality in their region; describe how it translates to the performing arts, specifically to the circus industry in their region. The second part of the panel is a conversation with our panelists about intersectionality, postcolonialism and allyship and how these concepts translate to the circus community.

Noeli Acoba Youtube Video Series

Racial Inclusivity in the Chicago Circus Community
Racial Inclusivity in the Chicago Circus Community Round Table Discussion (Fri 7/10/20 at 8:30 EST) Our roundtable was merely a start to the conversation. We hope that it has spurred you into further dialogue and discussion. There is still so much work to be done! Here is a link to the document shared during the meeting for resources to continue this work. It is by no means an extensive list, but it’s a great launching point! Hopefully you find it helpful. If you learned something from the panelists, we encourage you to follow them on social media and/or compensate them for their time. Their Venmo accounts are: Deanna Myers: @Deanna-Myers-7, Symphony Sanders: @symphonysanders, Jean Carlos Claudio: @La-Variete, Chantal Bustamante: @Chantal-bustamante, @thedrifterscollective, Alseny Sylla (Paypal): acrosylla@yahoo.ca, Kaitlyn Andrews: @Kaitlyn-Andrews-2

International Jugglers Association Festival Online 2020 Panel
Race in Juggling: Addressing Inclusion in the Juggling Community with Sky King (1hr 45min)

In Center Ring
Jonathan Lee Iverson interview series: In Center Ring – Episode 11: Paris “The Hip Hop Juggler”: “You Have To Embrace The Ugly.”
n Center Ring presents the incomparable, Paris “The Hip Hop Juggler.” The mesmerizing Harlemite with a unique brand of showmanship.

Jonathan Lee Iverson interview series: In Center Ring – Episode 10: Noeli Acoba: “Circus Is My Heart”
In Center Ring presents the delightful, Noeli Acoba. The budding circus star turned YouTube sensation.

Jonathan Lee Iverson interview series: In Center Ring – Episode 9: Veronica Blair: “I Can Push This Further.”
In Center Ring presents, the stellar Veronica Blair. The aerialist turned documentarian is a trailblazing circus artist who rest proudly on the shoulders of those who came before her, while etching an indelible trail for generations to come.

On Racism and Representation CircusTalk Article
In this article Majo Cazares discusses the impact of representation not only in the world of circus, but in the world as a whole. “The power of representation is immense.”

Safety in Acro Facebook Group
Andrew Phillips video post about personal experience
“There have been a few posts about the current events in America and whether or not there is racism in recreational acro and whether or not that may be the reason that there are disproportionately few (read:no) black people in the sport. The short answer is yes and yes.”

Anti-Racist Teaching Articles

White Supremacy Culture List
A list collected and defined by Tema Okun of dismantlingracism.org of characteristics which can be damaging when used as a norm without being proactively chosen by a group. Shared with the community on the Social Circus Network Peer Learning Call on Sept 8, 2020. 

If You Really Want To Make a Difference In Black Lives Change How Your Teach White Kids

What Anti-Racist Teachers Do Differently 

Cirque Psych
Perfectionism and White Supremacy in the Circus

From the Pole Community
A Letter to the Pole Community  “It’s Time We Talk About Toe Point Supremacy”
BLM Pole Studio Summit Hosted by Vertical Joe’s

Circus for Change Questionnaire
Circus for Change is a group composed of primarily White circus artists created in response to the racial injustice highlighted by both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. This questionnaire enables us to get a big picture of potential equity issues in circus spaces rather than assuming something is an issue. The data will be essential in cataloging the state of circus today and advocating for resource distribution where it is needed.community-driven documentary series that gives people the opportunity to learn, celebrate, and take pride in the inspiring history of blacks in the American circus.