Gilbert Salazar has a BA in social justice education and an MA in applied theater arts. As a youth-serving professional, Gilbert has developed curricula and provided instruction through nonprofit agencies, such as the United Way of Monterey County, the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. As an educator, Gilbert has taught various life-skills subjects to teens and young adults, from anger management, sexual assault prevention and healthy relationship building, conflict transformation, and social emotional learning. As a teaching artist and applied theater artist, Gilbert has worked with communities to create and present theater using community and individual narratives, often representing impacts from systems of oppression.
Gilbert is also interested in utilizing theater and ritual work for violence prevention with young men and adults to critique and break down harmful dominant forms of masculinity. His interest is in working with young men to teach communication and restorative practices through storytelling and theater.
Gilbert has been recognized for his work in violence prevention and sexual assault prevention as a featured participant in the book Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women by Michael A. Messner, Max A. Greenberg, and Tal Peretz (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015). As an independent educator and teaching artist and practitioner, Gilbert has contracted with several universities and organizations for restorative justice and theater work.
“Sippin’”, a play that Gilbert wrote in 2017, asks the question, what happens when you serve white fragility at the table? It was produced as a short film in 2020. The film presents the encounter of four women of color who gather for celebration and healing with a ritual of tea and stories. It currently is in post-production, and will have its public debut later this year.
Gilbert has been published by the online journal Entropy and by the Gloria Anzaldua Symposium. His work as a playwright was featured at Casa 0101 Theater and the Brown & Out festival’s “New Works Play Reading Series” and later as a workshop production.
"Passing the Cup of Vulnerability: Offering Vulnerability As a Challenge to White Fragility through the Elements of Circle"
Gilbert Salazar examines, in a refreshingly artistic style, how personal vulnerability provides an antidote to white fragility. POC and Indigenous Peoples are well aware, as Salazar illustrates in his essay, that the process of Circles or other training spaces “sparks either discomfort or activation from participants, including what is now referred to as white fragility.” Salazar employs a short play, Sippin’, to highlight how POC experience white fragility in activated mode.
The play raises many questions about mixed-race dynamics, but two stand out: How can Circle, with its elements of container and witnessing, rupture white fragility’s paradigms? How can vulnerability and storytelling give us tools that can elicit accountability—honest self-reflection—among and within RJ and RP practitioners? Salazar’s play exemplifies how racial realities, when introduced even in small doses, can quickly become toxic in a mixed-race space. Yet Salazar asks people to lean into, rather than withdraw from, these unsettled moments. Even though leaning into these moments does not come without hazard, doing so can lead to restorative moments—or not, depending on the group.
Salazar’s practice of Circles reveals Whites’ potential to embrace their vulnerability, which, if they choose, can open them to their healing journey. The restorative conversations witnessed within Circles are, for Salazar, a place “where others may know who we are.” For many Whites, though, this experience can be frightening.