“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour ... If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
It was just past midnight. I was lying down in bed. My upstairs neighbor was either watching porn or playing videos games. There were odd and random sounds and bad music playing. Really, it could have been either.
Despite efforts to the contrary, I was wide awake. I turned to my side and placed a pillow over my head. This strategy has never worked to drown out sound, but the effort--its dramatic release of frustration--seems worthy of repetition. I saw a blue light flashing on my phone indicating a message. I'm waiting to hear back about several exciting job opportunities, so every message is read with eagerness and enthusiasm.
I read the email and was struck. I was being asked to consider something that put my personal, professional and artistic integrity on high alert. My heart started racing and leapt into my throat. It was difficult to breathe. My vision blurred and I was thrown into a fit of tears recounting the number of times I'd been asked to whitewash a situation and put conversations about racial equity, cultural awareness, and gender parity aside for the betterment and ease of the room.
But then I remembered the line that I drew some years ago ... an invisible, but palpable line that stood between who I am (the essence and truth of my honor and dignity, and how I choose to live in the world) and what I am willing to walk away from no matter what the cost. By meditating on that line, I contemplated what it would mean to cross it and the silence I would have to bear if I agreed with the conditions set forth in this email.
Make no mistake, the cost of walking away from this situation would be great and public, but I would have to walk away. I would neither be able to stand the hypocrisy nor stomach the lies. What's more, I wouldn't be able to advocate for women playwrights and theatre artists of color or continue the work that I'm doing around Diversity and Inclusion in the American Theatre with any credibility.
That line, which temptation, greed, convenience and power, oft tempt to erase brought me comfort, hope, empowerment and sanity. I renewed my allegiance and slept a good, uninterrupted sleep. As for the rest, we'll see what unfolds.