It feels like everyone is scrambling to write posts or articles on artists of color now that we white people have finally realized we need to speak up on behalf of our black brothers and sisters in order to finally move the needle on racism and inequality.
These past few weeks have made me realize that no matter what I’ve done in the past, by not speaking out aggressively about the wrongs being done around me, I was complicity condoning them.
We are at the precipice of history and the inequalities that currently exist cannot continue. Check out this article in The Boston Globe from a few years ago, for instance, that puts the net worth of Blacks in the Boston area at $8. Reading about and supporting socially and politely engaged art is good, but action is better.
Thus, while I invite you to read the posts below that may be considered even more relevant now, I’d also encourage you to scroll beyond the list to see what I’m doing in “real life” – and what you can too.
And for international visitors, consider what racism exists in your own countries. You are not immune. Who is being treated badly and why, and what can be done to change it?
The List (in reverse chronological order)
- Tschabalala Self: Out of Body at Boston’s ICA
- A Visit to The Dorchester Art Project
- The Robert Colescott Collection at The Rubell Museum in Miami
- Kehinde Wiley at the Rubell
- Mikalene Thomas: Better Nights at the Bass Museum of Art
- Selected Exhibitions at Art Basel Miami 2019 – Political Works
- Selected Exhibitions at Art Basel Miami 2019 – part I – Teresa Margolles’ Estorbo (Obstruction) at Galerie Peter Kilchmann
- When Home Won’t Let You Stay at Boston’s ICA
- Yale University Art Gallery
- The Wellcome Collection Part II – Private collecting abroad and its complexities
- The visual language of Gordon Parks
- Jules Arthur’s Work for Resilient Sisterhood Project
On my little soap box here (and please – I seek imitation rather than praise – write back with what YOU’RE doing – not saying that you like my list), I would suggest there are a few things that can be done fairly easily, and are meaningful actions rather than “performative activism” (e.g. meaningless).
This is a list encompassing both the black community as well as differently-abled and LGBTQIA+ individuals. The intersectionality is there – and it’s time to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of us all (yes, how American).
Some suggestions I’m attempting to implement/encourage are the following. And know that my attempts may be imperfect, and I’ve decided that’s ok – as long as they are done with a pure heart and the desire to learn. I admit that the fear of failure or alienating others definitely has held me back. I fear that like me, other people have also stayed silent for too long for fear of saying the “wrong thing”, but that time has passed.
Some ideas for action rather than just words:
- GIVE – There are so many lists, where to begin? This one from NY Magazine is extensive. If you have funds and want to donate, choose your recipient yourself. There are too many good ones to mention.
- SHOW UP – Attend a demonstration – show up and support first amendment rights. People in groups make a powerful statement.
- DEFER – (Yes, this is complex for women, but pass it along to another woman then) When presented an opportunity, rather than volunteering yourself, suggest a minority or differently-abled individual. Get that person the lines on their resume they need to succeed and plug them into your network.
- CREDIT – If you want to give a shoutout on social media, make sure to tag and use the handle of the person – so that person can get more followers. Ensure that there’s an intent behind your action.
- RECRUIT – Think of who you know in your circle that works in a business environment – ask companies where they recruit from, and how they support minority interests of all types (BIOPC, LBGTQIA+, etc.) — do they have a support network for minorities? This is especially good if you know someone in HR!
- BUY – Demand better via the law of supply and demand. If we read books on racism, more will be published – check out this week’s NYT bestseller’s list!
- STEP UP – If you have a platform, use it. I try to do shows at Beacon Gallery related to social justice a few times a year. Those shows are my passion – if you feel the same, show it. Our society will be made better by sharing our authentic selves with the world.
- TAKE A LOOK – Consider what can (or should) be removed or renamed locally and act on it. Perhaps don’t just go out and behead Christopher Columbus, but consider what local action will demonstrate a commitment to equality (not YOUR commitment – the community’s commitment… you are only a conduit) This is my latest project: bringing together a community coalition to see if we can rename a few schools in my city’s school district. If you want to know more, and see if this is something you could do in your town, message me.
We are all responsible for how society conducts itself in the wake of George Floyd’s death – I know that it seems like everyone is giving their ideas of what to do… as if we are all suddenly experts in social justice. I’m not. While I’m passionate about the subject in the end I’m just another white person simply working to better our society. However I’ve always been a woman of action – and what we need now is action. I hope if you’ve read this far you’ll join me.