On the Wild Goose Festival

Re-posted with permission from the social media account of Alicia Crosby, a writer, speaker and justice educator from Chicago (August 18, 2021).

When I resigned from my leadership position at the Wild Goose Festival in 2016 I asked the board a question.

Do you want to be a prophetic place for transformation or a playground for white progressives?

When <10 sessions out of 400+ focus on racial equity, the answer is clear.

I should note that most of those <10 sessions are not explicitly named as racial justice spaces but I can trust @lennyaduncan, @JoLuehmann, @irobyn, @RevDrBarber, & my beloved Dr. Forbes to prioritize what is just because I know their public theology & preaching pushes for this.

Aside from the impudence of still hosting an multi-day, in-person event in which masks are not required during a COVID surge across the South, it’s clear to me that safety is still not being prioritized in myriad ways.

They’re still hosting this festival in Hot Springs, NC despite BIPOC & other minoritized groups noting for YEARS how unsafe it is to be in a space that remote, full of hate symbols, and devoid of some cell or emergency services.

I remember how massive confederate flags & neo-nazi symbols were increasingly evident on the drive there pre-Trump & can only imagine how much worse it’s gotten in recent years.

If white folks got harassed by bigots back then, what sort of safety can BIPOC expect now?

But these aren’t things the organizers are thinking about despite consistently being told AND being handed a comprehensive guide with suggestions for change.

They’re not prioritizing dialogues on bystander intervention, pushing at anti-Asian violence, sustaining support for Black folks, decolonization, tackling white supremacy, or anything that would move people to stand with folks outside of their white dominant communities.

The Wild Goose Festival has been in existence for too long to not be able to uplift the needs and concerns of racially minoritized people without relying on the experiential extraction and exploitation of Black, Native, Asian, & Latine people.

Y’all can miss me with the bit about this being a space reliant on contributor submissions because there should be concerns on why racial justice & reckoning with white supremacy not a concern for those submitting or curating content as well as those attending year after year.

I’ve been milder on my challenges in years prior but this is a full throated rebuke because I’m tired.

I’m tired of the lack of progress or mobilization of the thousands who attend this festival for substantive change.

I’m tired of the masturbatory nature of progressive white Christianities that pantomime commitment to equity but who don’t do the work to figure out how to make advancements for change without the labor of POC.

I’m tired of spaces saying they want justice but fail to help people develop strategies that will disrupt the systems actively subjugating & suppressing folks.

My parting words to the Goose reflected my belief that there was a disconnect between who they are and who they purport to be (which is still true).

My hope for those still connected to this space is that you vocally push it to be better or find new places that’ll foster growth.

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