Skip to content

Diversity and Burning Man’s Principle of Radical Inclusion

September 5, 2018

photo by Leori Gill of Black Rock Citizens gathered around the Man on Burn Night 2018

Just like any city in America, Black Rock City is made up of a wide range of people. Sometimes people are surprised to find that there are even families and children at Burning Man: in fact there are over 600 residents each year in KIdsville, the largest camp at Burning Man, and BRC is full of people of all genders, sexual orientations, and colors.

 

But while one of the 10 Principles is Radical Inclusion,  Black Rock City is remarkably white. And it does seem like there are more men than women and more people in their 20s than in your typical city of 70k.

To understand the population of Black Rock City, since 2002 a collaborative research project called the Black Rock Census seeks to learn more about the participants who make up Black Rock City via a random sample of Burners during the event and online survey responses after the Burn.

The census data shows that yes, there are a lot of folks in their 20s and 30s. It’s also a highly educated population with 40% having a BA and 30% making between 50k and 100k– hence the disposable income and the time to attend Burning Man. The census also bears out my observations that there’s more people who identify as male than female: about 60% male and 40% female.

In terms of ethnicity, in 2013, BRC was almost 83% white but in 2017, it was down a bit to 77%:

Filmmaker Gina Levy investigated being black at Burning Man in her film “In Pursuit of Happiness: Black at Burning Man” which didn’t get much attention when it came out in 2017. However, in the weeks preceeding Burning Man 2018, Gina’s video caught the attention of the New York Times which shared it in this story — which did get people’s attention.

So with only 1% or less of the population in Black Rock City African American, it is significant that one of my favorite institutions is Black Rock Roller Disco by African American David Miles, and that with only 40% female, it is also significant that one of my favorite BRC artists is both a woman and African American.

I met Elizabeth Mallory in 2014 when we were campmates and she created the incredible work pictured below. I actually didn’t even know it was hers when I took these photos. I was captivated by the expressions and the physicality of the work and enjoyed sharing camp with her in 2014.

In 2015 she created this work:

Here’s a detail of her 2016 installation at night:

In 2017 she created “The Bridge” which I saw at sun and moon set — and she joined me along with former campmates Rosel and sTeVe with the Mighty Zenith at the Elvis Wedding Chapel:

While I wasn’t at Burning Man in 2018, I love this photo of her artwork “The Garden of Relationships” created with great care by Teri Lou:

:

Isn’t this breath-taking?

Black Rock City certainly has more art than other cities as you can see in this video by long-time Burner Mark Day…. but is it as diverse?

Just like any city, Black Rock has financial diversity as well as ethnic diversity: it’s not all starving artists and half-dressed hippies, and it never has been. Silicon Valley and others have always contributed major bucks toward making That Thing Out in the Desert happen — and attended.

 

While many people do make huge sacrifices to bring their art to Black Rock City and spend inordinate amounts of time fundraising, the 1% are there too — and not always practicing the 10 Principles of Burning Man. Yes there are plenty of stories of tech moguls making grilled cheese sandwiches or conservatives like Grover Nordquist and Mark Sanford rubbing elbows with Burning Man founders in first camp, but most of the time the 1% hang out in their own private camps gorging on fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, and Dom Perignon Champagne as this article attests. (Who are the 1%? The richest 1 percent of Americans who now take home about 20 percent of total income, and own over 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.) Photo below from one such camp that kicked me out last year when I wandered in.

Don’t expect to sit on the nice couches or have someone make you a drink from the well stocked and locked bar, and you may or may not be able to get a seat in the private Cirque du Soleil style show where the camp funder pays wages as well as provides tickets and a commissary for the employees and the actors involved in the show…

The Man Burns Again in 360 days… more or less! Will you be there? I sure hope I will be!

What to do between now and then? Attend a Burning Man Decompression Party or regional event in SF or LA or near you! And maybe you’ll see the Mighty Zenith, Black Rock Roller Disco or an artwork by Elizabeth Mallory!

In Los Angeles, join us Sat. Oct. 13 in downtown LA; more details soon!

San Francisco Decompression 2018: Black Top City!

  • Date and Time: October 20 – October 21, 2018 @ 2:00 PM – 2:00 AM
  • Format: Event
  • Location:
    Potrero Power Station, 23rd St @ Illinois St, San Francisco
  • Cost: $20-25 in advance, $30 at the door, Kids 12 and under free!
  • Tickets: Buy tickets or RSVP

 

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Spanish for the Camino

Learn Spanish for the Camino: walk the talk

What's in that Bottle?

Better Living Through Better Wine!

ENOFYLZ

My humble wine blog

Jenny True

An excruciatingly personal food blog

foodwineclick

When food and wine click!

The Flavor of Grace

Helene Kremer's The Flavor of Grace

The Swirling Dervish

Wine Stories, Food Pairings, and Life Adventures

ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Living La Vida Vino!

Dracaena Wines

Our Wines + Your Moments = Great Memories

L'OCCASION

a reason for wine

OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Outlaw Soaps: Exciting soaps for adventurous people.

Exciting soaps for adventurous people

Drifting Through

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind

Sonya Huber

books, essays, etc.

THE GRAPE BELT

Drinking, Thinking, Cooking, Eating, Reading, Writing, Traveling, Talking ~ The Essentials of the Wine Life ~

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

poor mexican gone

Yesterday's stories shed light on the way forward

ROCKIN RED BLOG

A Song in Every Glass

Cindy Ross

Author | Speaker

trailtraveler

Get your copy of Mile 445 today at Amazon.com!

www.KamalaThompson.com

"Where Business Meets Humanity"

Laura Grace Weldon

Free Range Learning, Creative Living, Gentle Encouragement, Big Questions, Poetry, Occasional Drollery

From Insults To Respect

A Guide To Anger And Conflict Resolution

Wes Chyrchel

Consultant · Early Stage Advisor · Project Advisor

Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

Snarky. Cheeky. Grumpy. Dopey. Never Bashful.

L'esprit de Vin

A wine blog with food for thought...

The Wine Wankers

G’day, you’re at the best wine blog ever! We're all about wine; without the wankery.

Wine Verbiage

verbiage about wine & life

Small Epiphanies

A BLOG BY G.P. WAYNE

Paul reflects therapeutically

Thoughts about writing about thinking

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

Winehiker Witiculture

Hike. Wine. Repeat! An exploration of life's vinoambulocentricities.

Gabe Feathers McGee

poetry, stories, puffnstuff

New Earth Heartbeat

Rest in the Heart

DEAR HUMAN

These letters are written to remind you just how much you matter, just how important you are, and just how beautiful the gift of life as a human is.

SAHMmelier

Stay at home mom, lover of wine

Talk-A-Vino

Wine, food and life

%d bloggers like this: