Go Local: Race Matters In Providence, RI

11 Apr

I was supposed to go to this event tonight: Community Discussion About Race, Racism and Privilege, but I couldn’t get a sitter.

The event was organized by a local artist, and I’m not sure who else, and is being held at AS220, an amazing non-profit art organization, and a hub of the local arts community here in Providence, Rhode Island.

The event was described as this:

if you’d like to meet up with other folks in our broader community and talk about issues of race, racism, and privilege, and how that stuff gets manifested in the arts community & in artistic practice….. and problems with the ways that happens, that affect our community and our friends…. and thinking about constructive solutions (both individual-level & larger-scale) to those problems… let’s talk about it.

The idea for the talk, stemmed from this video, made by a local, white, female artist, who covered herself with brown paint, and well, you just have to watch for yourself…

I am going to have to ask a friend of mine, who planned on attending, how the talk went.  The talk is not supposed to just center around the video, but I’m sure a fair amount of time will be spent talking about it.  I don’t know if the artist in the video will be there.  I suppose if she was, she might say that she was satirizing the blaxploitation aspect of black females in hip-hop videos, but still, she makes me uncomfortable–knowing this is a white woman gyrating her hips, shaking her booty, as she imagines black women do, pouting her lips as if mimicking how she feels black women move their lips when singing, dancing, or trying to look sexy.  And, don’t get me started on all the gold jewelry, the silver sequin thong, and especially, the bottle of some cheap booze tucked in the front of her booty shorts.

But, I’m a white women, too.  I want to hear what black women, and men, have to say about the video.  Do artists get a free pass to deal with race in their artwork?  Please post your comments here, and please share with friends, so we can grow the dialogue.

I am glad that the dialogue is taking place at AS220 tonight, and that another community dialogue event is planned for May.  It is a step in the right direction, and I am all for talk among a broad range of people from different backgrounds and points-of-view (and I hope that there is a diverse crowd at the talk).  It might not be easy, or pretty, but it’s essential, if we all want to feel respected, connected, and represented properly, and fairly.


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