"What Happens To A Dream Deferred?" What happens to the aspirations of a people and the consequences that might arise, if those dreams and hopes don't come to fruition? What happens if those dreams remain unfulfilled? What state of mind are we in mentally, physically, and spiritually? Where is my 40 Acres plus a Mule? What Dream are we actually talking about? Is it the American Dream my Ancestors were promised? This dream is the one that has been delayed for centuries and NOW IS THE TIME for its fulfillment or else, it explodes... Black History is American History.

Since the 1980’s and earlier, a large number of Black dance organizations have not survived and since closed their doors due to a lack of financial support (both contributed and earned income). And today, in 2020, many Black, Latin Arts organizations and a number of cultural sectors live in a “crisis state” day-to-day, continually struggling to keep their doors open. So, what happens to a community that loses its center, its safe haven, its heartbeat? The loss and impact of this critical role in community is indescribable.

provides a glimpse inside of the Black dance sector. This report documents the organizational and financial health of a representative sample of thirty Black-led dance companies from across the United States. THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACKS IN DANCE (IABD) traveled to the cities and communities of these dance companies collecting financial and organizational data in order to assess the needs of this sector. As a result of the report findings, IABD is poised to bring to light the innovative methodologies in spite of pervasive and sometimes destabilizing racism as well as systemic financial inequities - utilizing dance as a means of protest, survival and social change.

to move beyond the comfortable conversations, the empathy and understanding, the “woe is me and wringing of the hands.” It is now time for the hard work of CHANGE to begin for all who enter this space of trusting the process and implementing real equitable practices in the dance field.

Let’s dive into The Uncomfortable Zone...

was not a commissioned body of work; it was birthed by the stories that were heard, and the people encountered who, on a day-to-day basis, strive to keep their arts organizations alive. Structural racism in the dance field perpetuates unequal and harmful lifelong outcomes for Black, Brown and People of the Global Majority in this art form. Their artistry, companies and institutions have been historically exploited, neglected, and not valued in the creation of this nation’s culture, economy, and democracy. And right now, the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the ongoing uprising to end police brutality, illuminates this fact even brighter. #BLACKLIVESMATTER

The 1988 gathering of 80+ individuals in Philadelphia, PA, at the 1st International Conference of Black Dance Companies took place because a need was not being met in the dance community - specifically for Black people. And just a few years later, the response to an unmet need was the founding of The International Association of Blacks in Dance. IABD was launched to bridge the gaps. Even the name was selected as an acknowledgement that the issues facing Blacks in Dance were not the problems of only African Americans, but of all Black and Brown people striving to promote, foster, and preserve the art of dances performed and created by those of African descent.

The disparities that we know exist between Arts Organizations of Color and those White-led mainstream large budget companies in dance is confirmed by the data that was collected from thirty Black-led dance companies across the nation. IABD desires to set the record straight about the state of our companies in this field and how the deeply rooted racial and economic divide in the field of dance exists and must be addressed. We can no longer remain on the sidelines and be silenced by a system that wasn’t made for us to prosper. Let's correct the narrative!

Even though many have endorsed IABD's statement, "I Said, Can You Hear Me Now?", there is reluctance and dare we say resistance from those who consider themselves to be progressive-minded, allies and co-conspirators, to center Blackness in the work that lies ahead. They are not able to consider the Black experience foundational to the building and shaping of the American fabric — economic, political and social policies.

We must now re-approach, re-assess and re-imagine, the rules, policies, and narratives that uphold racist practices in this art form. If we are not intentional in dismantling racism, then we will continue to be unsuccessful in the change we desire. "It is time to embark on a serious and sustained effort to center Blackness and the Black experience as a necessary strategy to ensure economic liberation for all Americans." (Insight Center for Community Economic Development. "Centering Blackness: The Path to Economic Liberation for All")

Our collective work demands that we use a lens that includes everyone who is ready for systemic change, that which is visible and solid. IABD believes that when Black, Brown and People of the Global Majority are made a priority and given the opportunity to share their lived experiences, hopes, dreams and values without negative outcomes, only then will we see a shift. We must actively dismantle racism if we hope to see a better world for ALL OF THE PEOPLE, ALL OF THE TIME...

Be part of the change. Lasting change is not possible without system change!

Download The Black Report          Donate to IABD Research

*Langston Hughes, Harlem, What Happens To A Dream Deferred?