Ms. Rankine said that “part of documenting the micro-aggressions is to understand where the bigger, scandalous aggressions come from.” So much racism is unconscious and springs from imagined fears, she said. “It has to do with who gets pulled over, who gets locked up. You have to look not directly, but indirectly.”
Blue and Black: Stories of Police Violence is a zine created by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams and supported by Project NIA, which aims to end juvenile incarceration. It offers real-life examples of racial profiling, police discrimination based on sexual orientation, and why immigrants will almost never report domestic violence. To see the full zine, which can be downloaded for free, click HERE.
Maya Mackrandilal Sheath IV (2014)
1. Diversity is not the inclusion of those not from New York. Diversity isn’t more white women. Diversity isn’t safe art. Diversity isn’t black bodies put on display by white artists.
2. You don’t get to appropriate diversity as a buzzword for your PR work. Besides, we know how to count:
—There is one black female artist (we refuse to count your fictional black female artist)
—You put the two Puerto Ricans in the basement …
—HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN is a collective of 38 mostly black & queer artists but barely gets treated as one artist. How amazing would it be if their 38 people counted as 38 people at the Whitney, which would accord them 40% of the museum’s space? They have been allotted an “evolving” temporary screening slot. They are the largest collective in the Biennial yet their real estate is virtually nonexistent.
The BFAMFAPhD project describes its concerns as the “impact of debt, rent, and precarity on the lives of creative people,” and hope that this project will “make media and connect viewers to existing organizing work.” They made a short video that explains its findings:
“I would also argue that the institutions of both mainstream and avant-garde poetry accept poets of color based on how they address race. Mainstream poetry is rather pernicious in awarding quietist minority poets who assuage quasi-white liberal guilt rather than challenge it. They prefer their poets to praise rather than excoriate, to write sanitized, easily understood personal lyrics on family and ancestry rather than make sweeping institutional critiques. But the avant-gardists prefer their poets of color to be quietest as well, paying attention to poems where race—through subject and form—is incidental, preferably invisible, or at the very least, buried.”
Part One in a Series. The following writing prompts were produced by student poets from Williams College, in a workshop co-led by Beth Loffreda and Claudia Rankine. Two prompts were given and then students were asked to give each other prompts.
Because white men can’t police their imagination—
—You get a lot of repetitive literature on race by white people.
—We all interpreted this sentence differently.
—others have to police theirs.
—certain officers are bad-tempered.
—Brazilians speak Portuguese.
—the gap gets bigger.
—I feel most female.
—I walk down the street a little faster.
—everyone is a suspect.
Part Two in a Series. The following writing prompts were produced by student poets from Williams College, in a workshop co-led by Beth Loffreda and Claudia Rankine. Two prompts were given and then students were asked to give each other prompts.
I use my privilege to…
—do lots of things.
—get in car accidents.
—take the time to think about.
—study Literary theory (my) privilege.
—get away with speeding tickets.
—solve world hunger—>instagramming.
—the gays get gay marriage.
—not realize its realizing.
—get a job.
—choose when to be visible.
—only speak for myself.
Part Three in a Series. The following writing prompts were produced by student poets from Williams College, in a workshop co-led by Beth Loffreda and Claudia Rankine. Two prompts were given and then students were asked to give each other prompts.
Because I’m _____, people assume I’m ______…
—female; fighting stereotypes, stronger than I am
—human; scared to be alone
—educated; uppity, self-righteous, going to change the world
—fair; not like them
—black; on the wrong side of town
—mixed; don’t belong, confused, traitorous
“From all available evidence no black man had ever set foot in this tiny Swiss village before I came,” Baldwin wrote. But the village has grown considerably since his visits, more than sixty years ago. They’ve seen blacks now; I wasn’t a remarkable sight. There were a few glances at the hotel when I was checking in, and in the fine restaurant just up the road, but there are always glances. There are glances in Zurich, where I am spending the summer, and there are glances in New York City, which has been my home for fourteen years. There are glances all over Europe and in India, and anywhere I go outside Africa. The test is how long the glances last, whether they become stares, with what intent they occur, whether they contain any degree of hostility or mockery, and to what extent connections, money, or mode of dress shield me in these situations. To be a stranger is to be looked at, but to be black is to be looked at especially.
— Teju Cole, “Black Body: Rereading James Baldwin’s ‘Stranger in the Village,'” in The New Yorker, 8/19/14
Carolina Miranda, in an L.A. Times article, unravels the controversies surrounding Joe Scanlan’s conceptual work of art, “Donelle Woolford,” featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennale. “Donelle Woolford” may be more accurately described as a collaborative piece between Scanlan, a Caucasian man, and theatre artist Jenn Kidwell, an African-American woman. Kidwell portrays the fictional Woolford as a real artist, with actual pieces in the Whitney exhibit. The museum lists Woolford as the sole creator of the pieces, when they are really the creations of Scanlan, or in the case of the performance art, a collaboration between Scanlan and Kidwell.
The piece has stirred all kinds of debate about what the artist’s motivations could have been: Was this a coy way of commenting on affirmative action, on the supposed “advantages” conferred on certain underrepresented minorities? Was it out-and-out cultural appropriation? Another example of the white mainstream taking on some aspect of African American life and using it for professional gain? Was it conceptual blackface?