February 16, 2021 | By Deja Mason | Back to blog

From the time I was a little girl, I have always asked questions. I bombarded my family with questions like, “Why was the sky blue?” or “How do people get to the moon?” or “Why is the world the way it is?” I was inquisitive and longed for more information. Over time, my family taught me that even if they didn’t know the answer to my question when I asked, they would walk with me and search with me in trying to find the answer.

Today, I continue to ask questions. I center my work around sparking conversation, searching for solutions and disrupting the status quo. As Tupac Shakur so eloquently put it, “Even the genius asks questions.”

Hello Everyone! My name is Deja Mason, and I am a student in the Bolz Center’s Master of Arts in Arts & Creative Enterprise Leadership program. I currently work for Overture Center for the Arts as the Human Resources Coordinator. Being in the program and working fulltime has had its challenges. Even so, I understand the power of the Bolz Center network, the knowledge I will gain in the Wisconsin School of Business and my overall desire to succeed. This has helped to frame why I am working and going to school at the same time allowing for me to have an experience that works for me.

With graduation soon approaching and with the pandemic in general, I have been reflecting on myself a lot. One such instance was brought about during our fall semester when the Bolz Center brought in the nINA Collective to have diversity, equity and inclusion training for all Bolz Center staff and students.

Prior to our class conversation, the nINA Collective provided a worksheet called “Mapping Our Roles in a Social Change Ecosystem” by Deepa Iyer. It outlined 10 different roles that centered around Equity, Liberation, Justice and Solidarity and then identifying and mapping which role you play in the ecosystem. Of all the roles, the one that stuck out to me was The Disruptor. The Disruptor takes uncomfortable and risky actions to shake up the status quo, to raise awareness, and to build power. This I believe is indicative of the leader I am and will continue to work to be as I flourish and grow in my career and personal life.

I am a Black woman who was born in the Midwest and was raised in the South. I have seen and experienced many things. The arts industry has shaped so much of who I am as an artist and now arts administrator. Thus I long to see an arts industry that provides avenues of continued growth and evolution for the community and village that raised me.

We need to work through the growing pains and enjoy the pressure of creating the change we know is necessary and long overdue. This way we will create the diamond that will shine and be the standard for everyone through art.

Being able to take advantage of what I have earned and seeing the privilege in higher education has driven me to want to continue to disrupt and ask more questions that will push for a community and industry that I will be proud to say I belong to.