I am glad to hear that this dialog is as necessary as I believed.
Thanks for the posts. Keep'em coming and we will move this wagon train into the 21st C.
But listen, I will not blame us for discrimination. I will not blame us for our pasts.
I will not blame us for the connections we don't have. I will not blame us for the things we do not know.
I still remember the Harvard lawyer who was hired by the prestigious law firm and wondered how the other young lawyers got clients.
At the country club, of course! But guess what? The young black lawyer could not get into the club. He could not get hired as a waiter at the club. He did manage to get a busboy gig with his Harvard law degree.
I think the issues we are discussing are important for everyone who is underserved, specifically people of African descent, and from what I am told, Latinos, women, Asians, Native Americans and, as I already said, anyone who feels dissed. No matter what your profession, there is some version of this question. How do I infiltrate? Women have asked it as well as people from various ethnic groups: Irish, Jewish, Polish, Italian and other immigrants. Some have made great leaps. We have, too. But where the money is we are still in a struggle to find equity.
I recently saw a video clip of Faith Ringgold on the Hatch-Billops archive commenting on the feminist movement during the 1970's. Apparently, at a point, the feminists thought everything was pretty good for them.
I will paraphrase Ms. Ringgold's statement: "They were getting exhibitions, they were selling their work, they were hanging out with the guys; but I was not selling work, I was not getting shows and I was not hanging out with the guys!"
So the simple notion of being in with the downtown folks, working hand-in-hand on the same causes does not always get one the rewards of inclusion.
Here is an excerpt from We Flew Over the Bridge: The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold by Faith Ringgold published by Duke University Press 2005. pg 175-180.
"I became a feminist because I wanted to help my daughters, other women and myself aspire to something more than a place behind a good man. In the 1970’s, being black and a feminist was equivalent to being a traitor to the cause of black people. “You seek to divide us,” I was told. “Women’s Lib is for white women. The black woman is too strong now---she’s already liberated.” In the fall of 1970 Poppy Johnson, Lucy Lippard and I, formed an ad hock women’s group to protest the small percentage of women in all past Whitney Annuals... Our goal for the 1970 annual was 50% women... ...The Whitney Museum became the focus of our attention.
...The Whitney Annual that year was to be a sculpture show... Because of the Whitney’s well-known preference for abstract art, ... Betye Saar and Barbara Chase-Riboud ... were the ones I unconditionally demanded to be in the show. Saar and Chase-Riboud became the first black women ever to be exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The total percentage of women in the Whitney annual in 1970 was twenty-three percent as opposed to the previous year’s average of five to ten percent. This was better than ten percent, but it still wasn’t fifty. We decided to demonstrate during the opening to make that point... At a pre-determined time, Lucy Lippard and I began to blow our whistles... We continued to blow. The people gathered around us and we formed a big circle on the floor. Then we got up and walked around chanting, 'Fifty percent women, fifty percent women.' Throughout the show we demonstrated every weekend, blowing our police whistles and singing off key.. 'The Whitney is a helluva place, parlez-vouz. They’re down on women and they’re down on race, a honky donkey, parlez-vous.' The women artist’s movement in New York was on it’s way..."
By the way, when you see a word or phrase in blue you can click on it to go to a link. For example Kerry James Marshall's interview at the then, Bad at Sports Gallery, was on the blog, but was added again by Mr. McLin in a later comment. If you had clicked on Kerry's name where I suggested you would have gone to the interview.Thanks for the repeat Mr. McLin.
From the "Out of the Box series
Acrylic on wood box by Joyce Owens