Read this week

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The first time you came to my poetry reading. After, while the room stood and clapped, I walked back to my seat beside you. You clutched my hand, your eyes red and wet, and said, I never thought I’d live to see so many old white people clapping for my son.

I didn’t quite understand until, weeks later, I visited you at the nail salon and watched as you knelt, head bent, washing the feet of one old white woman after another.

*

Out my window this morning, just before sunrise, a deer stood in a fog so dense and bright that the second one, not too far away, looked like the unfinished shadow of the first.

You can color that in. You can call it “The History of Memory.”

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Migration can be triggered by the angle of sunlight, indicating a change in season, temperature, plant life, and nourishment. Female monarchs lay eggs along the route. Every history has more than one thread, each thread a story of division. The journey takes four thousand eight hundred and thirty miles, or the length of this country. The monarchs that fly south will not make it back north. Each departure, then, is final. Only their children return; only the future revisits the past.

What is a country but a borderless sentence, a life?

That time at the Chinese butcher, you pointed to the roasted pig hanging from its hook. Its ribs are just like a person’s after they’re burned. You let out a clipped chuckle, then paused, took out your pocketbook, your brow pinched, and recounted our money.

What is a country but a life sentence?

*

White people will shamelessly make gross generalizations about poor and working class people and communities of color right to your face and not flinch or bat an eye, and invite you too to join in.

White people will align themselves with you if they can benefit from you, pick at your brain (for free) and profit off of your thinking, trauma and lived experience. They will do this all while building lucrative careers off of you, other people and communities of color, expecting your complicity.

You will arrive to these “Aha!” moments: a) Western education is bullshit, b) your higher education is a replay of your entire K-12 education, and c) American schools, American schooling and American public education is not meant, was never meant, and will never be meant for folks like you to survive.

Their violent desire to “pick your brain” leads to nothing but co-optation and the theft of your production. They will discard you when you are no longer serviceable, then blame you for their violence. Because white people always think they know more than you. Even when demanding information from you, they believe they are experts of you about your own life.They fetishize, fantasize, and want to be us without actually giving up their power and privileges.

They do without taking on our issues or problems head on, or challenging the systems that they, and their people, create, recreate and participate in. They go back to their white worlds, white families, white lovers, and white lives that remain untouched. But then they wonder why people of color desire and actually choose not to engage with them. When and why people of color tell Becky: “No, you can’t sit with us.”

Words like “professional” will be thrown around to measure, evaluate, judge, critique, and control you. When in reality what they’re saying without saying, what they’re asking without asking, is for you to be more white.

Defining what is and what is not professional to a person of color is colonialist.You can’t hold people of color accountable to things they never agreed to, created, or asked to be evaluated by.

I’m realizing more and more how glaringly similar Pre-K to 12th grade public education and higher education really are: the hoops, the obstacles, the forms of assessing knowledge, the gatekeeping, and the overwhelming and unbearable whiteness of it all.

How they are designed to inform, mirror and reflect each other. How they are cut from the same cloth.

Academia and American educational institutions are and have been colonial projects. They are institutions and practices that exist and operate on stolen land and have been founded through violence, genocide and white supremacy. They are cut from the same cloth, and thus are designed to inform, mirror and reflect those same principles, processes, practices, tools and tactics.

Policies and practices don’t just exist in vacuums or on their own accord. They are created, shaped and carried out by individual and collective ideologies. Educational institutions and educational systems are microcosms of our society, societal culture and values at large. Our education system reflects what our society values.

They have value because we give them value: knowingly and unknowingly, implicitly and explicitly. Thus, the policies and practices that educational institutions carry out generation after generation, cohort after cohort, student after student will continue to exist and function the same or similarly because they also do in our larger society as well.

White educators, faculty members, and administrators in these educational institutions would have to really step up and help create these structural changes, reconceptualizing and redistributing their own power because students and folks of color shouldn’t be the ones carrying the brunt of this work.  Students of color should not have to go through their racialized experiences as well as worrying and working themselves to death for change, for a change to the systems and practices they or their people did not create.

In my experience, that’s where the alliance from white people ends.

Working as a writer often feels like walking up to a very thick, resilient brick wall, shaking its hand and saying, “Hi, nice to meet you, I follow you on Twitter,” and then smashing your face into it over and over and over again until one brick from the wall gently tumbles out. You do this forever and then maybe one day you start teaching budding writers to do the same. I don’t know why any of us write; it is a terrible sickness.

So it’s always frustrating when someone else writes something that you know is either poorly written, or is based in some specious, ridiculous argument.

Promoting the work of white writers who use another culture for profit isn’t trying. It’s meeting the laziest kind of diversity metric, one that doesn’t actually shift power balances or change the status quo. Abstaining from cultural appropriation wouldn’t stop you from writing thoughtfully about people who aren’t white. It does, however, stop you from ripping off people of colour, or pretending like you understand their stories intimately. It does preclude you from taking a culture that was never yours to begin with — a culture that might have made the lives of the people born with it harder in white Canada, or might mean they don’t get the same opportunities and privileges — and turning a profit.

Canada publishes a laughably low number of books by people of colour, namely black and Indigenous writers, and the discrepancy is just as bad in journalism. You don’t get to check off a box for diversity for allowing your white writers to invent the lives of POC people. That’s not enough. You have to actually find people who write and speak and live from different perspectives, and promote them. And pay them, because historically and currently, they’re not getting work, and they’re not getting money. White writers using their very histories and cultures, naturally, get their dues.

The conversation was so nakedly cruel, with no shred of possible empathy for people who are really struggling to get their work read, recognized, and appreciated not only by an audience, but by these exact editors who act as gatekeepers to said audience. Even more egregious is that this whole argument was rooted in appropriation of Indigenous voices and stories, people who we’ve taken so much from already. Physical space, safety, bodies, culture — we can’t even let them tell their own stories in an issue of a magazine dedicated to their narratives without undercutting them first.

But most importantly, the starkest element of this was how ready they were to throw money around. Money that we’ve never seen get publicly tossed around to promote actual diversity in media. Money that they were giving up from their personal accounts; they were willing to publicly pledge $300 or $500 individually for a prize that celebrates whiteness.

I’d known I wanted to write since I was twelve, but back then I’d never seen a girl like myself in the books I loved so much. I saw white girls—often upper-middle class, often pining after unremarkable white boys. So that’s what I wrote. I wrote my way out of used clothes and Hamburger Helper and parents who screamed in the night. None of my characters ever worried about money. None of them were concerned what their friends would think if they met their Haudenosaunee dad or their white bipolar mother. None of them had a Haudenosaunee dad or white bipolar mother. Things were simple; things were normal. Rich boys and brand names were normal.

Obviously, as I got older, my taste in literature changed. What didn’t change was my suspicion that publishers felt Indigenous girls like me were unworthy of book covers or book deals. Even in university the women we studied were white: Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Jane Austen. I admired these women’s work, but they weren’t writing what I needed to read, and this made it hard to believe there was space for what I needed to write.

So imagine my surprise when a fellow writer—a white woman—told me during post-workshop beers that I was going to get published right away “because I was Native.” I knew that there was some talk about the literary community’s need to be more “diverse,” but as far as I knew that was all it was. Talk. I could count the Native writers I knew of with half a hand—none of whom were women, and none of whom were writing about Native women in a way I recognized.

The idea that the colonialism, racism, and sexism—which had systematically kept Indigenous women out of the literary community—could somehow be leveraged through some half-assed literary affirmative action to benefit me as an Indigenous woman was absurd. And yet this white woman believed it with her whole heart. And yet this white woman got into an MFA program and I got rejected from every one I applied to. Perhaps I hadn’t made it clear enough on the application that I was Native. Perhaps I had made it too clear on the application I was Native. It was hard to say.

…The old questions emerged: Was this, written by a white man in another country, more “Indian” than my own writing as an Indigenous woman? Did this racist portrayal and cultural appropriation of Indigenous people matter if the story was otherwise “good”?

That, for me, is the crucial problem with the push for “diversity” in publishing—something I’ve known my whole life but have only been able to articulate recently. “Diversity” is not about letting those who aren’t white make whatever art matters to them and their communities. If that were the case, it would not have taken me twenty-five years to find Indigenous women represented in a meaningful way in a book.

With “diversity” being such a hot topic lately, I’ve noticed a rise in white people writing from other racial perspectives, such as the man who won the short story contest. I sometimes wonder whether these white writers believe, as my classmate did, that black writers, Indigenous writers, and other writers of colour have an “edge” in the current publishing climate, and as a result, white writers must now make their texts more “diverse” to compete. I will not say that these authors cannot write from an experience they’ve never had. To an extent, all fiction writers write from experiences they’ve never had since the characters they’re writing aren’t real.

…Writing with empathy is not enough. It never has been. Depictions like these—reactions like these—are proof that there is only so much empathy white people are willing to extend to those who aren’t white. Empathy has its limits—and, contrary to what some may think, it is possible to both have empathy for a person and still hold inherited, unacknowledged racist views about them.

…If you can’t write about us with a love for who we are as a people, what we’ve survived, what we’ve accomplished despite all attempts to keep us from doing so; if you can’t look at us as we are and feel your pupils go wide, making all stereotypes feel like a sham, a poor copy, a disgrace—then why are you writing about us at all?

Those early years of adulthood saw me swallowed up by the mainstream, living a lifestyle that placed peculiar significance on ‘having stuff’ while simultaneously just getting by on what society generally dubs as a ‘good job’. I considered creative folk to be an entirely different breed: inherently talented, two steps ahead with their steady foundations that equated to opportunity, and gloriously nonconforming and free-spirited. Basically everything that I was not.

 

  • Race and the Poetic Avant-Garde by Stefania Hiem in the Boston Review There are many reasons why poets deploy broken forms, leaps, disjunctions, irregular syntax, obfuscated meaning, improvisation, metonymy, and polymorphous subjectivities. But as some of the respondents to this forum underscore, an innovative surface does not make something politically, ethically, or even artistically radical. 
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    Traditionally, the locus of enunciation should not matter. Any statement about the avant-garde and its relationship to identity politics would aspire to be valid regardless of when, where, or by whom it was formulated. Convention has dictated that it is best to avoid bringing in contextual information about the position from which one speaks. Such information highlights contingencies instead of the general point one is trying to make, is therefore petty and in bad taste. If it does not necessarily exclude from the conversation those who do not share the same position, then it particularizes or relativizes one’s arguments to such a degree that they cannot possibly lead to the emergence of a general truth.

    At this point in history, ethnicity is not the sole issue. Systematic, often endemic, patterns of exclusion and inclusion are based as much on class as on race, if not more. And reductive binaries are particularly pernicious in that, when attempting to dismantle them, it often proves impossibly difficult to resist polarities as well—they continue to spawn offspring. Some critics of the us-versus-them rhetoric of the (either perceived or self-appointed) watchdogs of the avant-garde continue to fall into the same sweeping generalizations and discursive traps they decry.

    Moreover, if the officially or unofficially sanctioned disempowerment of vast numbers of individuals is cause for outrage, ______  indignation as a citizen of the world has little to do with ______ being an “avant-garde minority poet.” As such, however, ______  can practice and trigger an active solidarity by rehearsing the following approaches to a minor, de-territorialized writing (Deleuze & Guattari), in English, the language of Empire:

    Performing a polymorphous subjectivity that undermines essentializing notions of identity and their insistence on one-to-one correspondences, which inevitably cancel multiplicity. An optimal post-racial scenario, in this sense, might be one in which a systematic questioning of assumptions concerning race and identity is continually taking place.

    Inserting into my work illicit presences that critique hegemonic, exclusionary discourses, including those pertaining to identity politics, and thus contribute to the expansion of frames of reference.

    Disrupting the expectation that, as a Mexican-American poet, ______  speak for a collectivity. If the avant-garde requires radical presence, ______  can conjure the singular presences of all those for whom ______  cannot speak, and whose experiences ______  own abysmally different one can speak to, but does not reflect.

    It is only via questioning of conventional form that ______  can explode both representation and normative conditions of reception, in order to frustrate the expectation that ______ play the part assigned to ______. Only through form am ______ able to resist identity as hashtag, as commodity. And my engagement with form, and not my commitment to politics, has given me certain strategic advantages vis-à-vis experimental writing, considering that, by and large in the U.S., the avant-garde’s organizing axes concern formal innovation and not politics. Yet, if those in its ranks prefer to disavow themselves of  ______  politics, their loss, not ______ .

     

     

  • From Jim-Crow to “Color-Blind” Poetics: Race and the So-Called Avant-Garde DOROTHY WANG

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weight of feeling you have to be the representation of an entire group is something most marginalized people can relate to. It influences how you speak, how you move your body, and the gaze is constantly there. You can feel eyes, imagined or real, on your back with every move you make. The more invisibility and othering a group faces, the more you feel the need to be outstanding and speak to everything and all things. This is a trick of domination. It is a type of silencing because it forces the marginalized person to not say or do anything that might be interpreted as a bad representation for their whole group. There is freedom in diversity. The ability to be good, bad, happy, and sad in public is what turns a group of any given marginalized people into identities.


I remembered this while chatting with Esther and Olivia, the people behind the creative collective Sad Asian Girls. I thought about my gaze and how I hoped that I didn’t do anything to objectify or push either person to be ambassadors of a group when they are just two creative people that belong to a group that white supremacy has rendered invisible; not actually invisible people. And in that moment, I had a unique empathetic moment about how people must gaze me and my work, even when well-intentioned. You can see cis-heterosexual people and non-black people trying not to treat me like an exotic thing they found. I’ve always been here. You’re just now seeing me for whatever reason.

The Italian philosopher Vico had this theory that time moves more in a spiral than it does in a line. He believes that’s why we repeat ourselves, including our tragedies, and that if we are more faithful to this movement, we can move away from the epicenter through distance and time, but we have to confront it every time. I’ve been thinking about trauma—how it’s repetitive, and how we recreate it, and how memory is fashioned by creation. Every time we remember, we create new neurons, which is why memory is so unreliable. I thought, “Well if the Greek root for ‘poet’ is ‘creator,’ then to remember is to create, and, therefore, to remember is to be a poet.” I thought it was so neat. Everyone’s a poet, as long as they remember.

You present, in some of your poems, that the future has already happened, and the past is happening still. Is writing a way to orient events among one another on that spiral?

The funny thing is, the biggest trouble I have with my writing is tense. In Vietnamese, we don’t have past participles, so everything is spoken in the present, and whether it’s past or present depends on the last word…Everything is present. The writing sometimes takes me out of time. I get to cater to the action, and the time resolves afterwards.

Sometimes I write a poem and I don’t realize what tense I’m using, or I’m writing a passage, and I have to decide later. Editing becomes the place where the past and present start to connect. When I’m writing, the curiosity pulls me forward. The work gets done when my terror is outpaced by my sense of urgency to speak. When there are good days, I go a little faster than my terror, and there are bad days when my terror beats me, and I’m silent. That’s the negotiation.

…Competition is a patriarchal structure that privileges conquest. The most pivotal thing for me as an artist was to be able to say “no” to those structures in order to say “yes” to the structures I want to create. That’s why it’s so scary.

…I was thinking about art, and restoration. I have this uneasy relationship with how we have this desire to restore other culture; artifacts; art. Looking at the violences that we’ve done to one another as a species, I get anxious about restoration, because, in some cases, we are also erasing acts of violence. If it’s broken, we rebuild it; we lose the traces of what made those breaks in the first place.

…What if I wrote a novel that is so fractured—so in pieces—that it becomes the epicenter of the break itself? As if to say, “I’m going to refuse to create a whole finished product, but [make] the phantom of a product—the shards in the dirt. Art exists there, too.” Even though a life is broken, it’s still worthy and capable of a complete story if we look at it in the ground zero, to the point where we can not even imagine what it looked like before the fracture.

I’m thinking about what happened to our country in the West, with the Native American genocides. Natives were seen as landscapes to be tamed and eradicated, so I think about what happens to the imagination—to the cultural psyche—when an act of violence is such total obliteration, so complete, we can no longer trace it. That’s why we’re at the Dakota Pipeline. Everything seems so related, therefore we’re in the spiral. Sometimes, it looks more like a toilet-bowl spiral.

… For many of us on the outside, the journal became this liberated place where we get to unleash ourselves and speak perhaps more truly, more fully, than we can even to our loved ones. I wanted to honor that tradition of weird, queer boys and girls writing in their journals—that this form is just as legitimate for art as the sonnet; the canto; the sestina. There is liberty in speaking, even if no one is going to hear it.

 

We have a fingerprint. We articulate it with ink and pressing our thumb down. What about the fingerprint of the self? The stranger-obsessive I went, the closer I got to everyone, because I was going into the space that did not have a social architecture. Even when we order a coffee or talk to people in public, there’s a social performance we do just to get by, to do the tasks that we have to. We have this private language, and body language, that we use to talk to friends and loved ones. We have a secret one that we use for ourselves, while we’re in a room on our own. We pick our nose, whatever.

Then there’s this unknown. So much of my art, when it excites me, comes from that. It’s very human, but it does not have a socially recognized architecture. I want to go there, and it feels like leaving the body behind, but of course it’s always there. Everything is done through the body. The better answer is that it leaves a recognizable social identity behind and goes towards questions. When I’m reading something wild, it came from that space.

If we talk long enough to anybody, we get to the space, but we’re not that far away. I echo Robert Hayden’s mantra: “Nothing human is foreign to me.” There are days where I’m good at that, and days where I’m bad at that, but I try to work towards it.

I’ve learned that doubt is a source of energy. You don’t have to be always certain. We live in a culture that fetishizes certainty. “What’s your stance? What’s your position?” As a writer, luckily, I don’t have to have a stance. I just have to have questions, and I get to build a landscape where I get to explore them. We’re complicated. We are hurricanes in a way, you know?

It takes a collaboration. I never expected anyone would care. Everything in my life, I had to have this sort of official documentation for. You enter a country, you go to the welfare office. So much of our lives are controlled by these checkpoints that we can’t side-step. To be a citizen is to pay taxes, whose funds are used for war and drones. To be a citizen is to move through checkpoints to support your life. Everything has a stamp. Being a writer, you never get a stamp. It’s either you jump off the cliff and fly, or you don’t.

Eight writers recommend classics and modern classics from Vietnam and the diaspora that touch on colonization, wars, and life after war—all told through the Vietnamese kaleidoscope.

Vietnam’s two wars in the past century often make it hard to look beyond warfare, and truly understand the country’s values, culture and people. It is, indeed, a daunting task to sort out the best classic and contemporary literary voices from Vietnam.

  • In Solidarity: How Non-Black Women of Color Stand Upon the Shoulders of Black Women  by Julie Feng

    I am a woman of color, and I am an intersectional feminist. These terms of identity were both coined by black women.

    “Intersectionality theory” is a concept named by scholar and professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, first discussed in her 1989 treatise “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” In it, Crenshaw talks about the “problematic consequence of the tendency to treat race and gender as mutually exclusive categories of experience and analysis.” In reality, anti-oppression work must be addressed from multiple axes. Of course, this truth is powerfully important to women of color, who must deal with discrimination both as women and as people of color.

    According to activist Loretta Ross of the Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the term “women of color” as we use it comes from a specific point in history. Ross explains:

    In 1977, a group of Black women from Washington, DC, went to the National Women’s Conference, that Jimmy Carter gave $5 million to have as part of the World Decade for Women. There was a conference in Houston, TX. This group of Black women carried into that conference something called The Black Women’s Agenda because the organizers of the conference—Bella Abzug, Ellie Smeal, and what have you—had put together a three-page Minority Women’s Plank in a 200-page document that these Black women thought was somewhat inadequate. So they actually formed a group called Black Women’s Agenda to come to Houston with a Black women’s plan of action that they wanted the delegates to vote to substitute for the Minority Women’s Plank that was in the proposed plan of action. Well, a funny thing happened in Houston: when they took the Black Women’s Agenda to Houston, then all the rest of the ‘minority’ women of color wanted to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda. Okay? Well, they agreed… but you could no longer call it the Black Women’s Agenda. And it was in those negotiations in Houston the term ‘women of color’ was created. Okay? And they didn’t see it as a biological designation—you’re born Asian, you’re born Black, you’re born African American, whatever—but it is a solidarity definition, a commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized. (emphasis added)

    “Women of color” is a deliberate political designation, not a biological or genetic term. The term has great power because, as Loretta Ross says, we “self-named ourselves.” We use it to recognize solidarity among ourselves and to honor our matriarchs.

    My fellow women of color and I stand on the shoulders of greats like Crenshaw, Ross, and other black women revolutionaries. We non-black women of color owe this term to black women. We must acknowledge that and remember that. When non-black women of color claim this identity, we also have to acknowledge that our issues are different. Despite the umbrella of our common struggles — fetishization, otherization, dehumanization — we cannot think of “women of color issues” as universal amongst us. The specific intersection of racism and sexism that black women face was termed misogynoir by queer black feminist scholar Moya Bailey (yet another brilliant black woman paving the road for us).

    As an Asian American woman, I do not face brutalization from institutions like the police or the military. I do not have to deal with respectability politics in the same way. I am not attacked by white supremacy in the same way.  As activist and writer Soya Jung puts it:

    I do not move through the world in the crosshairs of a policing system that has its roots in slave patrols, or in a nation that has used me as an ‘object of fear’ to justify state repression and public disinvestment from the infrastructure on which my community relies. I am not public enemy number one in the ongoing U.S. domestic war over power and resources that has systematically denied black humanity. Yet as an Asian American, black rage occupies an important and intimate place in my heart and mind.

    We cannot use the term “women of color” when we mean “black women.” It is erasure.

    Self-naming is powerful, but it doesn’t automatically create solidarity. We must be deliberate and conscientious when claiming identities. My resilience and resolve as a feminist comes from all of my women of color forebears, but my terms of identity specifically come from black women scholars. All women of color should understand this history and origin.

    I am a woman of color. I am an intersectional feminist. It was when I began to claim these terms that I truly began to feel deeply empowered. Before that, I only had the labels of others. Minority. Immigrant. Asian-American. I lived hesitantly on the edge of the hyphen.

    Before I was a “woman of color,” I only had language that served to marginalize me. Before I had the strength and the vocabulary to declare who I am, I only had others’ imprecise categories. These terms at first seemed like the truth, but they actually distorted the truth. Their purpose was to sustain my oppression.

    Why am I called a “minority” when I am a member of the largest ethnic group in the world? Why am I called an “immigrant” when white people who move to new countries are called “expats”? Why is my nationality always qualified, my belonging always questioned? Where do I belong?

    Thanks to our foremothers, the radiant radicals that began our movements, we can linguistically evolve beyond these questions. Yet, we must be careful with talk of “belonging.” Terminology can be the beginning of solidarity, but it is the work that we put into our movements that is truly meaningful.  As Loretta Ross said, “When you choose to work with other people who are minoritized by oppression, you’ve lifted yourself out of that basic identity into another political being and another political space.”

     

  • NOTE TO SELF: HOW TO WIN AT THE ART GAME AND STAY IN YOUR LANE

To live and work within the fine arts industry you must perform whiteness and class.

You have to be rich to be successful. Unless you want to struggle. If your parents aren’t rich you will have to work ten times harder than everyone else. You will struggle.

When you feel pressured to make work about your indigeneity and subsequent trauma for the art institution just remember they need the KPIsto ensure more funding and don’t really have time to give a shit about your mental health.

Remember you must work for free or for nothing and crawl your way to the top.

You’re a little bug. You are nothing. Never forget. There are so many people who can take your place.

Don’t feel upset when the white people around you pat themselves on the back for using token bits of you to discuss issues around race within a panel of white scholars.

Scrape along the lower echelons of the art institution until you get to the top. There isn’t enough room for many at the top and don’t forget it.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Art institutions and educational facilities are inherently problematised spaces, because of the ways in which capitalism intersects with class and race and immobilises certain people from attaining ‘success’.

From the outside the art world seems like a glamourous critical space which is inclusive and the one industry in which artists are granted the freedom to create work challenging power hierarchies.

You can be critical but never too critical.

Like universities, the art world functions inside a market economy. This dictates what kind of funding is available, but also whose work gets shown.

Why do I feel so uncomfortable and intimidated in the art gallery? They are designed to be uncomfortable and intimidating.

Art galleries are not safe spaces. These aren’t safe spaces. A safe space is a utopian idea, but something that you work towards. No art institution in this country is working towards this space.

Galleries are inherently racist and classist spaces.

Work 40+ hours a week to go to art school, to save up, and to place yourself in further debt.

Why are all these art communities made up of ‘peer groups’ that are just groups of friends who don’t hold each other accountable?

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

Why are these groups are so exclusionary? They all attended the same monotonous trade school and debt-generating networking club.

THE HYPER PROFESSIONALISATION OF THE ‘EMERGING’ ARTIST

To be an emerging artist is to be a business.

To be an emerging artist is to be complacent and compliant in these structures of power.

An ARI is not meant to emulate the institution, but it does. How do you even begin to challenge this? You can’t, so fall in line.

It isn’t elist if you are working for the ‘community’ aka your group of friends.

Feeling uncomfortable about your privilege? Just ask a group of women to perform emotional labour to make you feel better!

Remember when there’s no accountability in your ‘community’ aka friend group, then you can get away with racist, classist, and other toxic behaviour, because everyone will support you ;).

Don’t speak out about any of this behaviour, because this industry is designed to crush and silence you into submission. No one will listen to you or support you.

Remember if you experience racist behaviour no one will support you because it might ‘defame’ a (white) artist. The safety of (white) artists is more important than your safety, especially if the ‘community’ you’re in is a group of friends.

Remember all the emotional and professional support you give ‘friends’ running an ARI will mean nothing to them if it means upsetting the ‘community’, aka the friend group.

Remember to invite the industry heavyweights, aka problematic (white) curators, to your events, because every interaction is a business meeting and you need to get inside these institutions in order to find a dealer.

Don’t trust anyone. The art world functions on individualism.The art school encourages this individualism. Individualism is rooted in neoliberalism and the art world is committed to maintaining these power structures. Often ‘friendships’ you think exist don’t. These ‘friendships’ are your networks. If you are competing against each other for these small opportunities one of you will be the loser, because only one of you can win. You don’t have friendships in the artworld. They don’t want you to win.They don’t want you to be critical. They don’t want to be accountable. Never challenge any of the institutions or the power structures. They want you to be quiet. They will silence you and never forget.

No one will protect you or back you if you say things publicly that people only dare say behind each other’s backs.

Remember you work in an industry where there are no jobs for you when you graduate from university, unless you play this game and dance with the devil.

If you dare to be this transparent you will be deemed ‘high risk’ and you become a ‘bad girl’. Your male peers might benefit from such gendered branding, but you won’t. They don’t care if you don’t identify as ‘female’. They don’t care about you at all. They want you to be be quiet and make quiet art about nothing. If you stay in this industry you will never be able to decolonise, because there is no room for that unless it’s hot in the market rn.

You are nobody.

Conform.

Perform.

Remember that you are surrounded by fucking wolves.

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