As the great bard, J.Cole once said, “The only real change comes from inside.” So our quest for a decolonized world must start within. This exercise is meant for you to reflect on your immediate network and sources of information. We encourage you to do this on your own but you’re welcome to try it with a friend. The point is that you are honest with yourself. Let’s begin.
Place: A quiet room or a place that you feel comfortable. Preferably somewhere that will let you engage deep self reflection.
Materials: a pen and paper, and timer
Action One: Set your timer for one minute. During this minute, you will write down as many contemporary non-white artists, writers, scholars, curators, and cultural producers whose work you know. Just write the names that come to mind within that minute. Once time is up, count the names on your list. Do you see gaps? Is one group more represented than the other? Who is missing? The goal for this exercise is to see where your own cultural engagement can be diversified. You can identified significant gaps and find ways to fill them in.
Hindsight is 20/20, everything is about perspective, and everyone’s a stranger until you find common ground. This exercise is meant to shift your perspective and help you see the world from a different vantage point.
Place: Gallery, museum, cultural institution, community center, or right in your living room
Action: Think back to that list you made. What can you learn more about? Do you want to learn more about migration through the eyes of immigrants? Do you want to know more about contemporary Native artist? Do you just want your list to keep growing? Well, you’re in luck because this is the easiest thing to do! For the extroverts, go out into the world and seek out events that will help you understand someone culturally/racially/ethnically different from you. For the introverts, stay home and read a book about the experiences of someone that doesn’t have the same background as you, watch a documentary about the experiences of people of color or read an article written by people of color. The goal is to see your world from a different perspective. We guarantee you will find common ground and those you thought were strangers will become a bit more familiar.
Engage and Educate:
Now that you’ve engaged in self-reflective and perspective-shifting change, it’s time to spread the word. How? You ask. It’s as simple as 1...2...3…
Engage: Be the person that engages your family, friends, colleagues and institutions conversations about creating a more equitable world
Educate: You know things now. You may not know everything but you know that “Fine Art” shouldn’t be a category reserved to white men and you know that there are prominent and emerging cultural producers of color who are wholly underrepresented in the art world. You can help change that by educating your own network, introducing them to new perspectives, new artists, new ways of thinking. Bring them to the community events you go to, recommend a book from our outline.
Repeat: Take it again from the top. It’s going to take time and constant effort to create a more equitable art world.