Some advice for white museum workers (courtesy of Brilliant Idea Studio):
I'd also ask that we stop using phrases like "given the current political climate," "at this critical moment," or "these troubled times." Oftentimes, white project leaders aspiring to promote inclusivity and critical dialogue (i.e., "difficult," "challenging," or "uncomfortable" conversations) contextualize their work in the present day by holding up the straw man of the Trump Administration and Neo-Nazi marches. White supremacy and racism have existed in perpetuity – they are foundational, institutional issues. The rise in their visibility for white people has been predicated on blatant public displays and biased media coverage. But we can't base our call to action in the so-called exceptionalism of the present moment. These issues are symptomatic of larger injustices of which POC have long been trying to convince white people. Now that white liberals-cum-saviors have come to their own "independent" conclusions, they are lauded for doing the same work with more resources and institutional support. POC have devoted significant amounts of emotional and intellectual labor to working on the same projects, but continue to go unacknowledged or be penalized. From exhibits about cultural genocide and gentrification, to the prison-industrial complex and HIV/AIDS in the Black gay community, time and time again I've seen white project leaders get credit for work that should, at the very least, have been collaborative – or was, but for which community members of color received no acknowledgement. (I'm thinking of how Grossi's "Funeral for a Home" article from last week mentioned Pastor Harry Moore, Sr. once, in passing, as the eulogizer; he was, in fact, largely responsible for connecting the white project leaders with their community contacts and promoting the project in the community.) We need to prioritize POC leadership, give due credit, be respectful, and work with and for people – such that the institution and its resources are offered as the medium and the tools for community-led interpretation.