This weekend, Looking for Lilith Theatre Co. opens “Carefully Taught,” a production that hopes to introduce Louisville to a new mission Lilith has began working on: turning inward with their focused passion for forwarding social justice and evaluating their own white privilege.
Insider spoke with Lilith’s Jennifer Thalman Kepler, Kathi E. B. Ellis and Ebony Nolana Jordan to discuss the impetus and intentions of that mission.
“Back in 2015 when the Charleston shooting happened, we really became more intentional about addressing the issue of race and gender,” said Jordan.
The nine people murdered in a racially motivated mass shooting at the historic black church Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal included several of women. In revelations from his journal and statements made after the shooting, Dylan Roof claimed that among other motivations, he wished to protect white women.
It struck a chord for Lilith members, who recognize that white feminism and women’s rights in history has frequently come without thought to women of color.
“Lilith has always striven to work in an intersectional way, and we had looked at racial issues before in various ways, but we hadn’t plunged into that intersection as intentionally as other issues,” Jordan said.
Focusing on those intersections is known as intersectional feminism, and it’s a hot-button topic among activists all over the social justice spectrum. After discussion and some introspection, Lilith’s members decided to do a deep dive into their own culture. After all, they reasoned, change needs to come within as well as without.
“We need to not only look at this as a societal issue, we need to recognize how we ourselves, as individual artists and an organization, are working within a system that is steeped in patriarchy and white supremacy,” said Kepler.
Lilith applied for a grant from from Alternate Roots, an organization that helps support and deepen the social justice works of other grassroots initiatives.
After applying for grants last fall, the company finally got word that they would receive funding to help them in the new direction for their mission. Their work will help strengthen relationships in communities and focus on continued internal examination.
At the same time Lilith became interested in introspection, they also were planning their season schedule, and Co-Artistic Director Ellis was looking at the script for “Carefully Taught,” written by Cheryl Davis.