Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (R.I.D.E.)
“Hindsight is 2020 and I’m glad that the year is in the rearview mirror. But it definitely taught us many things; there is still much work to be done around inclusion and representation in the country and our Burning Man community is no different.”– Jayson Jackson
Theater and Music Producer, and Black Rock City participant
Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (R.I.D.E.)
2020 was a turning point. In the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings, and in support of all who fight for the equity of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Burning Man Project staff devoted themselves to building a more diverse and Radically Inclusive event, organization, and global community.
While we’ve advanced many conversations and initiatives over the years, in 2020 we doubled down on the work of changing the landscape of Burning Man Project, Black Rock City, and Burner communities and gatherings with regard to Radical Inclusion, diversity, and equity.
“The conversation about diversity has been alive at Burning Man since it moved to the desert. In the past four years we began earnestly working for real change. George Floyd’s death and COVID-19 provided the momentum and space to kick us into overdrive.”– Harley K. DuboisBurning Man Project Co-founder
Statement on Racial Justice and Radical Inclusion
Burning Man Project stands in solidarity with the Black community in the fight for racial justice. This is a time to listen, to reflect, and to learn. We acknowledge we have our own work to do to truly live up to the principle of Radical Inclusion, and we’re here for it.
Let’s make the global Burning Man community, including Black Rock City, more inclusive for Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color. Let’s create a path forward for fighting all forms of discrimination in the United States, and across our global community. Let’s amplify voices and ideas that will lead us to a more equitable society. Let’s create the space to listen and have the conversations needed to make permanent positive change in this world.
Burners have always been doers, so let’s do this.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
What We’re Doing to Make Burning Man More Radically Inclusive
It is our wish that everyone who participates in Burning Man events and communities feels safe, welcome, and free to live the fullest expression of themselves. This desire, after all, is one of the core reasons why we co-create our ephemeral desert city year after year.
The time for action is now. We see diversity and Radical Inclusion not as a project to be completed, but part of our ongoing evolution as a community.
In 2020, we took the following actions:
- Amplified voices of color on our communications channels — including the Burning Man Journal, Burning Man Live podcast, Beyond Burning Man on Medium, and social media channels.
- Formed the Radical Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (R.I.D.E.) Stewardship Group, a cross-departmental leadership team that prioritizes, manages, and advocates for DE&I work across Burning Man Project staff, Black Rock City, and the global community.
- Created the R.I.D.E. Advisory Committee, a group of community leaders who are helping us roadmap ways to practice anti-racism and enable better representation of people of color in Burning Man spaces.
- Hosted the first Diversity & Radical Inclusion Town Hall, where more than 450 virtual participants, including Black Rock City leadership, held space for 34 BIPOC Burners to share their stories and experiences.
- Implemented unconscious bias and anti-racism training, beginning with year-round Burning Man Project employees, then rolling out to volunteer leads and volunteers.
- Held bi-weekly internal staff discussions on race, identity, systemic racism, social justice, and related topics, and encouraged staff to develop collaborations with established social justice organizations.
Making Our Desert City More Radically Inclusive
“Our city is a welcoming place for all forms of diversity, including race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability, socio-economic, political, and cultural backgrounds, and other forms of identity. Our actions serve Radical Inclusion.”– Cultural Vision for Black Rock City
Launched in 2017, the Cultural Direction Setting project is an initiative tasked with guiding the Black Rock City community into the future. It addresses current challenges, sets a course for the future, and suggests changes to placement and other approaches over time.
We reached our implementation phase in 2020, and are looking forward to putting learnings into practice next time Black Rock City rises from the dust. Through surveys and conversations with Burners around the world, it became apparent that shifting the culture in Black Rock City also means shifting the event’s demographics.
Informed by these learnings, we are taking the following steps to increase inclusion and participation of BIPOC in Black Rock City:
Updating Camp Placement Criteria to prioritize camps that welcome, support and create interactivity for under-represented groups.
Opening a new pool of tickets that prioritize new and more diverse theme camps.
Emphasizing the importance of safe and inclusive spaces, and assessing camps by asking: “Was your camp offering inclusive and welcoming to diverse audiences?”
Supporting efforts to increase BIPOC participation, through outreach and provision of resources to theme camps, art projects, volunteer teams, and mutant vehicle crews that are committed to Radical Inclusion and racial equity.
“As a culture, Burning Man has given me a glimpse of what is possible and it’s presented an ethical framework which I feel is worthy of propagation. With its principle of Radical Inclusion and spirit of helping one’s fellow human beings, now, more than ever, this polarized world needs more Burning Man.”– Henry ChangOwner and designer of the Valyrian Steel mutant vehicle