Mark Dakin, #WeSeeYou #WeHearYou – Voice Online


THERE IS solace to be found in the announcement by the Royal Opera House that they ‘need a systemic approach, addressing the root causes of under-representation’ within their own ranks but disappointing their response to recent global events came after their Technical Director broke ranks.

Mark Dakin, #WeSeeYou #WeHearYou.

Dakin, Technical Director and Stage Sight Committee Member, was compelled to release a open letter this week following his attempt to draw attention to the issue of his organisations lack of a response internally.

The sentiment and narrative of the open letter echo that of black or person of colour who has climbed the ranks of an inherently white organisation only to find their voice marginalised or worse, ignored, muted, put to one side.

However the climate is different now, black people and people of colour will speak, they will be heard … But will things change?

Royal Opera House Chief Executive Alex Beard issued a statement on June 6 addressing the #BlackLivesMatter issues (See link below) but the original statement has been updated since the Voice Newspaper was made aware of Dakin’s open letter and although the words are welcome, future actions will speak far louder.

Open Letter – Minnesota – “Your silence is deafening”.

I am ashamed that the organisation for which I work, has chosen to exercise the privilege of staying publicly silent about the racist murder of the African American George Floyd, proactively choosing to ignore #blackouttuesday, as it has always publicly ignores Black History Month, when so many of our contemporaries have chosen to use their considerable influence to publicly stand alongside their black and BAME employees and the black and BAME communities more widely, in this devastating and traumatic moment.

As a man of colour, the privilege of silence is something I do not have.

I am appalled that the burden of representation in this devastating and traumatic moment has been so casually placed onto two of the few people of colour in our organisation. 

Whilst I am deeply moved and in awe of Joseph’s extraordinary poem and Marcelino’s amazing choreography, the conscious decision to “step back” is far from amplifying an authentic voice….you clearly were not listening anyway, “Your silence is a luxury….” ? The irony is heart-breaking.

In the absence of a complimentary white voice, these heartfelt pieces have been transformed into voyeurism, fetishizing the unbearable pain that so many in the Black and BAME community are currently suffering.

The Royal Opera House is an unrelentingly white organisation. It is obvious what we, your colleagues of colour will be feeling at this time…….what do you think?

And if you still don’t get it …… cannot understand why I am so angry.

As many of you know, I am fostered and adopted. This is me with my brother Nick, who 56 years after this photo was taken is now a former Team GB athlete, elite sports coach, Head of athletics at Loughborough University and a very large black man.

When I watched the 6pm news on May 26th, I saw the police murdering my brother. And I saw them murdering him again on the 7pm news…and again on the 9pm news…and again the 10pm news…and again on the morning news the next morning. And my kids saw the police murdering their uncle. How must this feel if you are a black man.

At a time when other organisations are specifically reaching out to support their Black and BAME employees, my organisation is silent and choses to not even show public solidarity.

To my mind this is far from the Highest standards, far from Open and inclusive behaviour and shows little Respect for our small Black and BAME workforce or the Black and BAME community more widely. We say one thing, but we do another. 

I attempted to voice this anger at this week’s Staff Diversity & Inclusion meeting and followed up with an email which I have pasted below. I am grateful that this has now been posted on the ROH Intranet…….in comparison to Joseph and Marcelino, an insignificant, small but no less heartfelt gesture to staff from a colleague of colour.

But what is most depressing about our public silence, is that it does not come as a surprise to me or my friends.

And for so consciously sustaining our ROH stereotype, we should be ashamed and appalled…..unless of course this isn’t a priority at the moment and actually, we really just don’t care.



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