Banned in Boston: Activists try to shut down a show by a white artist who painted a scene of black tragedy

In April I wrote a bit about the painting below, “Open Casket”, which depicts the body of Emmett Till, a black youth who was murdered on a visit to  Mississippi in 1955. He supposedly whistled at a white woman, which turned out to be a lie, but for that he was tortured and killed by two white men, who were tried and acquitted. He was just 14.

Till’s mother had his body brought back to Chicago, where he lived, and insisted on an open-casket funeral so people could see how brutally his body had been battered. You can see a link to one photo in my earlier post, which was published in the black magazine Jet. It is a sad and horrible tale that helped galvanize the Civil Rights movement.

I find the painting moving, but it turned out that the artist, Dana Schutz, made a big mistake: she was born white. She was demonized for taking on a sensitive and “iconic” black subject, for profiting from the pain of black people (she’s not selling the painting), and for being guilty of cultural appropriation and even racism. There were protests at the Whitney Biennial Exhibition when “Open Casket” was shown.

The painting stayed at the Whitney’s exhibit, and the attacks on Schutz, which included people standing in front of the painting wearing tee shirts with slogans on the back, continued. One black artist, Hannah Black, said this:

… it is not acceptable for a white person to transmute Black suffering into profit and fun, though the practice has been normalized for a long time. Although Schutz’s intention may be to present white shame, this shame is not correctly represented as a painting of a dead Black boy by a white artist — those non-Black artists who sincerely wish to highlight the shameful nature of white violence should first of all stop treating Black pain as raw material. The subject matter is not Schutz’s; white free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go.

Schutz responded civilly but forcefully:

“I don’t know what it is like to be black in America, but I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till’s only son. The thought of anything happening to your child is beyond comprehension. […] It is easy for artists to self-censor. To convince yourself to not make something before you even try. There were many reasons why I could not, should not, make this painting … (but) art can be a space for empathy, a vehicle for connection.”

As I said in my post, I have no patience with people who criticized Schutz for this painting, or for those who say that only black people can artistically depict black misery. If you follow that line of thinking, it leads to balkanization of the arts as well as politics. . . and madness.

The squabble over Schutz’s “right” to even paint this subject continued, and now have reached the boiling point again. As The Daily Beast reports (see their earlier account here, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston has planned a solo exhibition by Schutz, which includes 17 paintings and 4 drawings—but not “Open Casket” (there’s to be a placard discussing the painting). And black activists, who are still incensed, are trying to get the show canceled.

The protestors met for three hours with the exhibition’s curator, Eva Respini, and other members of the ICA, and then wrote an open letter airing their grievances against Schutz.  You can read the letter at the link, but here are a few excerpts. Its main goal is to get the ICA to cancel the show and then admit guilt, effectively punishing Schutz (and the ICA) for “transgression” (emphases from the letter):

We were hoping to hear the ICA resist the narrative that Black people can be sacrificed for the greater good. The exhibition going up as described at the meeting would continue the historical narrative that it is worth the suffering of communites most afflicted by continued state and culturally sanctioned racialized violence.

. . .While you spoke to cultural responsibility, we find the planned steps to address the painting to be lacking and in fact justifying the exhibition and thereby minimizing the implications of grave, cultural harm. We understand that the painting itself will not be shown and its exclusion is to be addressed as a wall label. We don’t find this sufficient. Indeed, it is clear the institution stands to gain by virtue of its absence. Even though the painting will not be shown, even in its absence, backing its artist without accountability nor transparency about proceeds from the exhibition, the institution will be participating in condoning the coopting of Black pain and showing the art world and beyond that people can co‐opt sacred imagery rooted in oppression and face little consequence, contributing to and perpetuating centuries‐old racist iconography that ultimately justifies state and socially sanctioned violence on Black people.

and (it’s much longer than this):

The ICA did not acknowledge how such culturally sanctioned violent iconography condones, offers impunity to, and escalates anti‐Black and racialized violence. You told us that you look at your artists as a community you serve and are accountable to. This begins to immunize the artist from accountability by institutional sanction. It tries to equate the responsibility institutions have to a (tax‐paying) public versus one to promote an artist to make mutually beneficial profit. It is a position that denies that the institution can enforce measures to have the artist be accountable. It chooses the artist over the communities the institution serves. Just as a bank would withdraw its credit when clients cannot keep to their original contract, a cultural institution has more power than the ICA is willing to concede. This denial of power and subsequent impunity from accountability sets a dangerous precedent in our contemporary world ‐ one that continues in the tradition of applying cultural power to protect offending white femmes who perpetrate violence against Black communities. [JAC: Last sentence has my emphasis.]

I find this bullying, offensive, and racist. It accuses Schutz, whose intentions were good, of being an “offending white femme who perpetrates violence against black communities”, and the painting of causing “grave cultural harm”and “coopting Black pain.”

Much as I try to see what truth lies in these accusations, I can’t find any—except that the protestors are offended that a white “femme” would portray a black subject that was a horrible tragedy and painful to African Americans. Well, Schutz has explained her reasons, and they’re convincing.  Still, the protestors would like, as Regressives are wont to do, for Schutz to be demonized, boycotted, and vilified for her entire life for making that painting.

At the end of the letter, the protestors make four demands, including a public apology by the ICA and an accusatory on-site “discussion” at which the curator and artist Schutz must be present to get yelled at. (Shades of the Cultural Revolution!) And, finally, there’s the usual claim that this isn’t about censorship, even though the censorship they really do want applies to a painting that isn’t even there:

Please pull the show. This is not about censorship. This is about institutional accountability, as the institutions working with the artist are even now not acknowledging that this nation is not an even playing field. During this violent climate, to show true accountability, we need institutions to go bold. We need them to move from side panels to action. We need them to channel the courage of the editors of Jet Magazine in publishing the photos on September 15, 1955, as Mrs. Mamey Till Mobley asked of them. We need them to go bold and not back down from fear of losing funders and enraging the fury of the current executive administration against arts funding. When institutions take action, they allow other insƟtuƟons to take action. You are not alone. The people will stand with you.

The ICA has caved in some ways to the demonstrators’ demands, and I think they were a bit cowardly in their response (see the Daily Beast article). But the show will go on, and Schutz continues to be civil. As the Daily Beast reported:

Schutz said that while she knew her depiction of Till might stir up controversy, she didn’t anticipate calls for it to be destroyed or removed from the Whitney Biennial. Asked if art should ever be censored, Schutz said no. But she encourages debate over works like hers. “People have a right to their outrage,” she said. “Public discussion and argument is important and essential for art.”

Yes, the protestors have a right to protest, though I don’t think they have a right to disrupt the ICA exhibition. But I find this fracas unbelievable—more unbelievable than the original protest, for the offending painting isn’t on view. But never mind. Schutz has proven herself ideologically impure, and for that she must suffer for the rest of her life.

I keep thinking what Martin Luther King Jr. would have to say about all this, and my feeling is he’d say that what counts is the content of the painting, not the color of the artist’s skin. But of course King’s philosophy has long ceased to be a part of civil rights activism.

h/t: BJ

88 Comments

  1. Posted July 31, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Yes, I like to quote from the “I Have A Dream” speech in situations like this:

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    • biz
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      I have been wondering for a while now what the regressive leftist response would be if they were actually forced to address MLK’s eloquent and moral words and how their worldview, demands, and actions fly in the face of those words.

      My guess is that if they were really forced to address this discrepancy, they would come up with something along the lines of “we were promised equality then, but we haven’t gotten it, so now all previous bets are off.” Something like that.

      Of course, since regressive leftism is not a logical movement but rather a secular religion, they will likely never have to face the contradiction between their positions and those of the classic equality movement.

    • Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Another quotes from it:

      “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

      • Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        When Dylan wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind”, I well remember Mavis Staples angrily denouncing him for his cultural appropriation. Dylan’s chutzpah enraged Sam Cooke so much that he wrote “A Change is gonna come”. And of course there is the famous ‘don’t trust no honky white boy’ section redacted from MLK’s “I have a dream speech”.

        As we all know, empathy de-evolved around 1959 and all art which claims to imagine how someone else might feel is definitionally impossible. Hence the otherwise inexplicable career of Tracey Emin.

  2. Tom
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Aren’t complaints of “cultural appropriation from non whites just hypocritical? The whole world has been copying the white nations for centuries.

    • Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      There would be vehement disagreement there, since the sin occurs only when one uses material from the oppressed. Apprpriation in the negative sense only works one way.

  3. Linda Calhoun
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Instead of seeing aggression or “appropriation”, does it ever occur to the protesters to see the possibility of alliances?

    The victim mentality makes it less, not more, likely that you will harness the social critical mass to make real change.

    L

    • Martin Knowles
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

    • improbable
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      This is how you tell that it isn’t about change. It’s about power.

      And the power thus won has a strong self-interest against change. If victimhood ever dried up, there would be no spoils.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Something tells me they are enjoying their victimhood a little too much. It’s incredible.

  4. Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    “… those non-Black artists who sincerely wish to highlight the shameful nature of white violence should first of all stop treating Black pain as raw material.”

    How would one do that? What sort of art on such a theme *would* be acceptable?

    • rickflick
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps happy blacks tap dancing. 😮
      (sarc).

  5. TJR
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Calling for the censorship of something which isn’t even there is quite something.

    What next, the censorship of things which don’t exist?

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 4, 2017 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      Already done. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”

  6. Patrick Clark
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    This circumstance reminds me of a comment that Sam Cooke made. He was, of course, the victim of repeated, horrific racial discrimination but was inspired to write the iconic “A Change Is Gonna Come” after hearing Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”. Cooke was amazed that the song was written by a white kid. He didn’t get angry about appropriation; rather, he was inspired to reference his own painful life experience and create an anthem for the Civil Rights movement. Did Dylan suffer the same racism as Cooke? Not at all, but that does not diminish the artistry of the song. It does not diminish either artist’s experience. Art should be one of the great level playing fields: if one has a message to communicate, do so, whether black or white, straight or gay, old or young.
    Just like Ms. Schultz, I am a parent and, as a parent, feel deeply when I see children suffer, whether in my neighborhood or halfway across the world. I don’t consider it appropriation to be brought to tears by the image of a Syrian child on the beach.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Excellent comment. I especially agree that “Art should be one of the great level playing fields.”

      This kind of protest does not move society forward. It’s effectively asking for a return to segregation – for whites to admire black art from a patronizing distance rather than be a part of its creation.

      Next artists will have to provide proof of ancestry before being a part of an exhibition. Where have we seen that before?

      Or will artists have to provide some kind of proof about where they sourced their materials? Black painters have to source their paints, brushes, canvas etc from black suppliers. Asian artists from Asian sources etc.

      I just can’t see how this protest helps fix the very real problem of racism.

      • Martin Knowles
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Well said.

  7. nicky
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Madness, Sad.
    (in your usurper president’s language 🙂 )

  8. Martin Knowles
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    These actions against Dana Schutz are disappointingly misguided and contribute nothing to a better society. It really saddens me to see such ignorance.

  9. Denise
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Some day people are going to look back on this period in our history and think that we lost our minds.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    … such culturally sanctioned violent iconography condones, offers impunity to, and escalates anti‐Black and racialized violence.

    That’s like claiming that crucifixes and other Christian iconography offered impunity for, and escalated, the sending of Christians in to face the lions in the Roman Colosseum.

  11. Mary Drake
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    People like those protesting this painting kind of scare me. I had decided recently that I need to get involved in some kind of volunteer work in politics, to fight against Trump and his thugs, but what if I run into the regressive left folks? I dealt with people a little like that when I attended UC Berkeley in the 60s, and I can tell you that I am too old now to be willing to worry about every little thing I say that might offend someone. And I am too tired to deal with unreasonable, nasty anger directed at me for some innocent comment. Maybe I will just stay home.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      No, you should get involved. If you encounter these people, tell them in no uncertain terms where to put their ignorant, authoritarian rhetoric. They exist and flourish only because they have been allowed to do so largely unopposed – at least in the moment. Day late editorials do not deter them. I believe in the idea of “conversational intolerance” as espoused by Harris. The only thing that will shut these people up is the uncomfortable feeling of being seen and called out as the fool in the room at the time they are being the fool.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        I like that tough stance. I wish Institute of Contemporary Art would simply listen carefully to what the protesters ask for,…and then say – request denied.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 4, 2017 at 2:12 am | Permalink

        I like that tough stance, too. But in this day and age of digital media a bunch of punks (or just one) with an ax to grind can easily make one’s life hell. Doxing, anyone? Swatting?

    • Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      What you say resonates with me. My husband, three children and I lived in California during the Cuban missile crisis, the HUAC, the murders of JFK, RFK and MLK, the Black Panthers, Patty Hearst, etc. We learned to maintain a low profile and to be careful about what we said. Now that I’m a very senior citizen, I feel free to say what I want or need to say without too much worry about consequences. No one can take much away from me. Friends of my age have become politically active again. Go for it, and don’t worry about ignorant reactions to what you say.

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    A key issue here is that the painting is not for sale!! (tho I suppose there is a cost for getting into the exhibit).

    A reason why in the past white cultural appropriation of black art has been problematic is that we live in a consumerist commercial society in which white folk control the purse strings. This resulted in whites being able to make a hell of a lot more money off of black-style musical art than blacks could. Crony capitalism results in a real “stealing” of black art. But, as I say, the painting is not for sale.

    The specific criticisms of the Till painting that have any resonance of me have to do with how the broader culture deals with it, not with criticisms of Ms. Schulz.

    In this vein, Black art professor Lisa Whittington has a much better discussion of the issues with this painting than those cited above. For her, it is the Whitney museum that is problematic, not Ms. Shulz.
    (I’m not necessarily in full agreement with LW either, but it’s a much more engaging discussion!!)

    Among other things LW has said,
    The problem is not necessarily with Dana. The problem is with the museums. If the Whitney or any other contemporary museum (i.e. Museum of Modern Art) was truly concerned about racism, they would make and curate an authentic exhibit of Black artists and their point of view,”
    and
    “I would ask her, why she did not paint the Emmett Till Story from a white woman’s point of view? Is there nothing that as a white woman that she would want to say? Especially in recently knowing that the woman who accused Emmett Till has admitted that she lied. Where is the artwork that represents her lies?”

      • Martin Knowles
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        Was the paining “not for sale” only after the fuss was being made? Either way Schutz is a wealthy successful artist who is not painting in a vacuum. Either she is being disingenuous with her statement, or is very naive to think the painting wouldn’t make waves for exploiting a mother’s suffering.

        • Paul S
          Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Does it matter if it’s for sale? Do you think Whittington’s paintings of Emmett are exploiting a mother’s suffering as well? If it’s exploiting the a mother’s suffering that’s at issue, should anyone be allowed to create the painting?
          Would it have made a difference had you never known who created the painting?
          Art should evoke emotions and this painting does exactly that.

        • Ken Phelps
          Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          “…exploiting…” ??? Are you shitting me? By what metric, other than your own racism, does this “exploit” the mother?

          • eric
            Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            Their argument is that Schutz is profiting over what happened to the Till family.

            Kind of like the alt-left movement is getting a lot of mileage/media out of what happened to Schutz. 🙂

            • Paul S
              Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

              And obviously that’s bad and we should put an stop to any artist depicting a real life event. Let’s scrap photography as well.

              • Martin Knowles
                Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

                Folks, allow me to be cynical about the art world. It could care less about civil rights. As for me being a racist, Ken Phelps, go fuck yourself.

              • BJ
                Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

                Martin, your view of something does not constitute factual information. You seem to continually struggle with this concept.

            • Posted July 31, 2017 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

              All art is an exploitation of emotion.

        • Posted July 31, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          We have a very long history of artists “exploiting a mother’s suffering”. What do you think all those pietas are? Or Jesus on the cross, or in his tomb? What about paintings of
          warfare (not just generals on horseback, but
          grunts fighting, bleeding, dying?) What about Guernica, photos of Auschwitz and Hiroshima? It is crazy to think only black people can paint blacks, brown people paint brown, yellow people paint yellow, white people paint white. Elephants, Bonobos, Apes, etc. are empathetic. Humans can empathize with them. How much more should all humans be able to empathize with all other human beings and animals that suffer.

          • Martin Knowles
            Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            The art world of the Whitney is about making lots of money and serving the super wealthy who don’t give a shit about our progressive values.

            • eric
              Posted July 31, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

              Oh no, you mean capitalists are using our principled dedication to free speech to make money? Say it isn’t so!

              Next thing you’ll tell me is that commercial advertising sometimes uses freedom of speech to exaggerate a product’s performance! How horrible!

              Yawn.

              • Martin Knowles
                Posted July 31, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

                Your attempt at shutting down dialog with sarcasm is pathetic. The point raised in this question is that the painter is taking the risk of being accused of exploiting something held sacred in order to be sensational and yes, make money. Is nothing sacred to you that you would be okay with somebody else making fame and fortune off? Think about it.

              • BJ
                Posted August 1, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

                The fact that people find something sensational does not mean it should be sensational. You have repeatedly asserted assumptions about this work, the woman who produced it, and the motivation behind it as facts. You continue to do so.

    • Inigo Montoya
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      So she can make a painting on the subject, as long as she “knows her place” and casts herself in the role of the vilain? It’s even more disgusting than the original criticism. These people are utterly terrified of empathy across gender/race boundaries. Their revulsion is the same revulsion that drives homophobia. They think it’s “wrong”, “unnatural”. The way forward, the progressive way, is to treat each other like extraterrestrials, apparently.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        I think the terror is of empathy that is either implicitly condescending/patronizing or horrendously misinformed.

        I don’t at all believe Shultz is guilty of either of these, but there is a long history of both, which often folk like Shultz and you and I are a tad oblivious too, although we are not contributing to it.

    • eric
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I think a case could be made that, via the fame/notoriety that painting has drummed up, the artist is materially benefiting because it will very likely cause the prices of her other works to go up. So whether she sells it or not, whether she intended it or not, she’s going to financially gain from having produced it.

      Having said that, I think it’s an extremely weak counterpoint to the badness of censorship, and I am in favor of her being allowed to show her art.

      • Martin Knowles
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        I am totally in favor of Schutz having the show in Boston. The objections of these activists regarding the Emmett Til painting is one thing, but to try and get the Boston show cancelled is going way too far and is counter-productive, as we see in the comments in this thread.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      To that last question of Whittington, I would say, “Empathy has no colour.”

    • darrelle
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think any of the two LW arguments you related have any merit.

      On the 1st, it is a false choice. It is completely ridiculous. Having a Schutz exhibit doesn’t say anything about museum’s degree of concern with racism. It also doesn’t say anything about a museum’s degree of willingness to host an exhibit of all Black artists. In my experience, and I have a bit of experience with art museums, the typical art museum is not going to have a bias against Black artists. If anything that is more likely to be a plus.

      On the 2nd, I think Inigo and Heather have that well covered. I do have to admit that the concept LW suggests in her last two sentences could be really good if well executed. I think it would be great if LW did such a piece.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        I was going to mention, the purpose of an art museum is to exhibit art. It is not to fight racism, advocate gun control, praise Donald Trumps social policy, etc.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          …Besides, I’m sure the Whitney has had shows of black artists in the past. Should they only feature black artists from now on? Would that satisfy?

          • Martin Knowles
            Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            The purpose of the Whitney is to create successful artists that feed the super egos of the super rich art collectors who don’t care about civil rights or other such sentiments.

            • Dave
              Posted August 1, 2017 at 5:01 am | Permalink

              I’m curious about your reasoning here. What is it about being a “super-rich art collector” that prevents them from caring about civil rights? Do you know any “super-rich art collectors” to justify that blanket assertion? Does the same argument apply to “super-rich” actors, musicians, writers etc.? Because I can think of plenty in those categories who never stop sounding off about politics and airing their “progressive” opinions at every available opportunity.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 4, 2017 at 2:20 am | Permalink

        ” I think it would be great if LW did such a piece.”

        Exactly!

  13. Martin Knowles
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Keep in mind also that even if this painting was not for sale, Schutz and her gallery/representives stand to make a ton of cash from her fame. The art world at the level of the Whitney Museum is primarily about fame, and conspicuous displays of wealth. It makes sense that this painting is being viewed as the exploiting of Emmett Til’s suffering by the African Americans activists. That there are questions being raised about its appropriateness should not be a surprise.

    • BJ
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      “That there are questions being raised about its appropriateness should not be a surprise.”

      Believe me, none of us are surprised. We all know about this nonsense by now. None of us are surprised that someone is defending such attempts at censorship of art here either.

      • Martin Knowles
        Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        I’m not defending censorship, if that’s what you mean by “here.” Just broadening the context for discussion.

  14. Kevin
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    How can a black person put constraints on what a white artist can express without being racist?

  15. kesheck
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    ” . . . white free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights.”

    This may seem like a trivial point to ask about, but I don’t understand the logic of this. Because I am white, I have no right of free speech?

    • Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      There is no ‘logic’ to see.

      It’s just word salad.

    • BJ
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      It shows an interesting logic that underlies many regressive left views: rights should be taken away from people they see as oppressors, and given solely to those they see as the oppressed. They do not wish to level the playing field and make sure all human beings have the same right, but rather tip the playing field in the opposite direction and make sure only certain other groups have rights.

  16. Posted July 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there’s any point trying to reason with the unreasonable.

    We are at the point where a simple ‘go fuck yourself’ should suffice.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 4, 2017 at 2:22 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear! 😀

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Ah, for the good old days, when “banned in Boston” just meant dirty words in a book.

  18. Mike Cracraft
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    What’s next with this stupidity ? I guess the color black is going to be banned for whites. No black suits or clothing; no black cars; whites with black hair will have to get hair coloring; no designer black of anything for whites. There will be no white astronomers since whites will be banned from looking at the night sky.

  19. eric
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    It [the ICA] chooses the artist over the communities the institution serves.

    The Institute IS serving the community…it’s just that “the community” is bigger than the subset of aggrieved individuals.

    Secondly, a brief googling of ICA Boston shows that it’s not a public (i.e. state or federal) institution. In it’s own words: “A nonprofit organization, the ICA relies on a variety of funding sources for its programming, including memberships, grants, donations, admissions, and store and ticket sales.” So technically the only “community” it has to serve it’s itself, and the only goals or missions it has to accomplish are the ones it sets for itself.

  20. Kevin
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I think Hanna Black is creating polemic to further her own career as performance artist. Maybe she too can be accused of exploiting her own ethnicity for her own advantage. White violence against blacks is also a white issue which does not need anybody’s permission in order to be held up to scrutiny by whatever art form.
    That Black is protesting against a statement of empathy perhaps suggests that she is not to good at understanding art.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 4, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      “White violence against blacks is also a white issue which does not need anybody’s permission in order to be held up to scrutiny by whatever art form.”

      Indeed!

  21. John Crisp
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking about what Jorge Luis Borges would make of all this. He must be dancing the fucking tango in his grave. A bunch of people demanding the censorship of an object that isn’t there, on the grounds that the person who made the absent object stole it from the pain of a woman 14 years dead, a pain that they have presumably appropriated equally without her consent, and which she sought to communicate and share by opening up the casket to allow “the world to see what they did to my baby.” Who is doing the appropriation here? It wasn’t the black world that needed to see what they did to her baby. Black people knew (and know) well enough what “they” (white people) did and are doing. Mamie Till didn’t leave the casket open to tell black people what they knew already, but to convey the universal (“the world”) human agony of the loss of a child, to say we are not “other”, but the same. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

    • darrelle
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      A very good point that I had not thought of.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Yep, very good point.

    • Ullrich Fischer
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Right on!

    • Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Wonderfully expressed. Jorge Luis Borges is one of my most favorite authors and what a book he would have made of this. Umberto Eco might have come up with something special also.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 4, 2017 at 2:26 am | Permalink

      Well said!

  22. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard people say things like “you can’t care about the environment and the future if you have no children”. WTF? It’s weird how people like to exclude each other from “caring club”.

    • BJ
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, in too many places and among too many groups these days, caring is more of a chance for performance than a solemn duty of decency.

  23. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted July 31, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution comes to America complete with demands for self-criticism sessions. What next? Will the ctrl-left demand that those accused of cultural appropriation and their “enablers” be forced to pick cotton for a few years to expatiate their thought crimes?

    • eric
      Posted July 31, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      “Glad you could come in for this job interview. First, let’s get the mandatory civil code of 2018 inspection out of the way. Show us your self-flaggelation scars, so that we know you can legally work…”

  24. Larry Cook
    Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    I have tried to illustrate, to no avail, the absurdity of restricting white people from using any subject they want in their art by extending the thinking to the world of sports. Should my son, a recipient of white privilege at the expense of black kids his age, be allowed to throw a fastball past a black kid to strike him out? Without discussing the subject of athletic scholarships and their legitimacy, I’d like to know how my kid could possibly be granted an athletic scholarship at the expense of a black kid just because he will win more games for the school. Maybe white athletes should be hobbled?

    “Boo hoo hoo, you painted a work of art that moved people, started conversations, made a social, cultural and political statement and brought in lots of money for art galleries, but you don’t deserve to be able to do that because we own the subject.”

    What a stupid world this is turning into. Or has turned into.

  25. Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Painting was invented by the cro-magnons, who were light-skinned. Black painters need to stop stealing another race’s art form.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      Cro-Magnon likely started out dark skinned. Who’s stealing what from whom?

      • rickflick
        Posted August 1, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        Breaking: This just in – “DNA sequencing of finds of the late post-ice-age hunter-gatherer populations in Europe indicate that some Cro-Magnons likely had blue eyes and dark hair, and a brown complexion.”
        How’s that for appropriation?

  26. Posted August 1, 2017 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    This article popped up in my feed today, telling African-Americans not to culturally appropriate from African nations.

    https://www.thsppl.com/thsppl-articles/2017/4/13/black-america-please-stop-appropriating-african-clothing-and-tribal-marks#.WX-r88lw2Po.facebook=

    • John Crisp
      Posted August 1, 2017 at 3:58 am | Permalink

      A corollary to this, amusing or sad, depending on your point of view, is the impact of Western fashion in Ethiopia, where I live. Middle-class teenage girls keen to follow Western fashion like to wear jeans with strategically placed rips and holes. This in a country where 70% of the population wear clothes with rips and holes because they can’t afford to buy new ones.

  27. Posted August 1, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    another case of Alinsky’s children, devouring their fathers.


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