How White Museum-Workers Can Combat Museum Supremacy

Today’s post has been written by Brilliant Idea Studio co-principal, Joe Ionna.  Illustrations made by Seema Rao. 

As competing narratives, histories, and facts have battled it out in the media, public spaces, and our political life. Like many of you, I was dumbfounded to see flags of Nazi Germany and the Confederacy paraded through the street of Charlottesville. Symbols of racial hatred, ideologies defeated on the battlefield and relegated to the dust bins of history, given new life by the election of Donald Trump.

But, this is a nation built on the power of Europeans.  Growing up, the term, white supremacy, was something that I thought of as a fringe element. But, the sense that white people are on top of society is woven into the structure of this country.  Even the phrase “white people” shows this. How often do you hear people and assume it is just white people?  This toxicity has touched us all and in turn implicating us as complicit to the ideology of white supremacy. What can be done?

First, we must counterprotest. Stand up. Second. hold yourself to account. Take these small steps below for big reasons.

Museums are structured around white supremacy. It is in who has power, how we refer to each other, those who are invited to speak, and those who remain silent. It is so ingrained into the organization that it may not even have been noticed by you until you look for it. Above are steps that can be taken to make your work environment a more equitable and inclusive place to work.



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