Just kidding (sorry, Lana)
Whew, what a 400 years of the subjugation and violent oppression of Black people in the United States this has been! I mean, week–sure, it’s only been about a week as people across the country and world protest, asserting that Black Lives Matter and fighting against government-sanctioned police brutality. Only to be met with….more police brutality. Though sparked by the murder of George Floyd, as well as the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and though not murdered by homicidal on-duty cops, Ahmaud Arbery, these demonstrations are the culmination of video after video, report after report of Black people massacred by police for decades upon decades. While those of us paying attention in the last couple years know the names of Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, there are many, many more names from decades past: Amadou Diallo, Michael Stewart, Cpl. Roman Ducksworth Jr. And this list goes on.
Oh, and I’m sure Karen in Chief and canine Munchausen Syndrome by proxy sufferer Amy Cooper tearfully calling the cops on bird watching (obviously a nefarious activity) Chris Cooper in Central Park had something to do with igniting the flame.
I don’t know about you, dearest Filthy Dreams readers, but I’m fucking furious. It’s hard to rightfully pinpoint just the sheer amount of rage I’ve felt coursing through my body when night after night I’ve been watching videos of the police–you know, the stupidest kid in your high school class that scrawled swastikas in their notebook turned jackbooted Gestapo cosplayer–intimidate, arrest, and beat the living shit out of protesters, journalists, legal observers, delivery workers, and really anyone who seems to get in their way.
Here in New York, our mayor and governor have shirked their responsibilities to enact a type of ignorance is bliss-style governance, likely because police unions protecting these baton-wielding power-drunk psychopaths have their nuts in a vice. Both politicians have, at best, wagged their finger at what they seem to think are a few rogue cops. At worse, they’ve been gaslighting the general public by willfully overlooking abuses that have been happening largely after the idiotically and haphazardly imposed 8PM curfew, proving that they care more about the windows at Starbucks than the lives of citizens. And both politicians have taken on the same put-upon, aggrieved tone, hurling accusations of unobjective journalism and partisan attacks, when anyone dares ask them about violent police misconduct done to peaceful protesters. How soon until they both just start hollering about “FAKE NEWS!”?
For Mayor Bill de Blasio, this is no surprise, considering he is a feckless, inefficient, embarrassing, blank-eyed dullard on his best day. And for Cuomo, he seems just salty that human rights violations distract from his daily song-and-dance, I mean, press conference in which he covers up his royal COVID-19 fuck-up with bluster and quaint Italian family-isms about meatballs.
And this is New York, a supposedly Democratic haven. I’ve been trying to understand the logic of attempting to protect the population from COVID-19 for months through stay at home orders only to then, physically harm that same population and suspend habeas corpus, putting them at increased risk for transmission. Azealia Banks is right: whiteness is a mental illness. Imagine being a fascist not out of some romanticized flirtation with authoritarianism, but because you’re just that goddamn stupid.
Speaking of Trump, he’s had quite a week too! When he wasn’t hiding in–I mean, inspecting–a bunker or building a wall around the White House (he finally got his wall), he was declaring civil war before teargassing and flash-bombing protesters, journalists, and clergy members so he could pose like a God Warrior in front of St. John’s. Look, I always thought evangelicals were out of their trash religiosity scammer minds when they said Trump was sent by God, but now I’m not so sure. Holding “a Bible!” aloft, he certainly looked like the Antichrist to me! And apparently, this was all Ivanka’s idea–who knew she had ideas! Considering slaves built the White House, I think there’s an argument to be made that their descendants should be able to forcefully evict him out of that house, don’t you?
But all this doesn’t mean I haven’t also been watching the protests with pride and even (is it possible?) hope–both the peaceful protests and those acting bad. Isn’t a diverse group of thousands upon thousands of people marching for Black lives, justice, and equality just the best Pride imaginable?
Frustratingly for me though, I, like many others, can’t join the marches, stuck inside dealing with ongoing COVID-19 recovery, huffing around in the humidity. And because of this, I’ve been spending a majority of my time yelling at people over social media, spewing bile at elected leaders, researching how to recall a certain New York City mayor, bothering City Council members, and naturally, sitting in judgment of some cringe-worthy social media activism from, you guessed it, white people.
No. I’m not going to kvetch about the #BlackoutTuesday black square. Black activists and cultural figures–who are the folks we should be listening to–have made both pro- and anti-black square arguments, including my favorite Azealia Banks drunkenly and loudly shouting that she’s not a black square. And it seems to me however anyone feels they should contribute is fine. Instead, I’m going to mock the white people acting as loudmouth educators of why the black square is, in fact, no-good. People like New Museum curator Margot Norton who Karen-splained to her followers why the black square mutes information and to instead, “get that info out there and do it wisely.” Who made you the expert, Margot?
In addition to her criticism, she also posted a gathering of frequently circulated memes, including one that I feel I have to address here due to my own confusion with its symbolism. The black-and-white image features a phrase “White Silence = Death” under a triangle, a take on the Silence = Death collective’s iconic HIV/AIDS activist imagery, associated with ACT UP. However, the question that has been nagging me ever since I caught a glimpse of this image is: why is the triangle there? The Silence = Death collective’s image flipped the Nazi’s upside-down pink triangle that represented homosexuals imprisoned and massacred in the Holocaust. I wasn’t aware that they were also slapping triangles on white people. Images mean things, people! And let’s be honest, sometimes a bit of white silence is a good thing.
But because I don’t want to rant about the black square universally, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been side-eying cultural institutions, museums, and galleries that I KNOW are anti-black trying desperately to absolve themselves of their complicit guilt through a flurry of social media posts. Hey! Remember those flash bombs I mentioned in D.C.? Those Stinger grenades are a product of Defense Technologies, owned by Safariland. That’s right–the Whitney Museum’s former vice chairman of the board Warren Kanders. Sure, he’s no longer vice chair now, but that’s because he resigned. Remember Whitney Director Adam Weinberg’s glowing send-off to Kanders in Hyperallergic?
“Warren and Allison Kanders have been unwavering in their commitment to this institution, including a generous lead gift toward the Museum’s building project. The Whitney’s groundbreaking Warhol exhibition and the past exhibitions of the works of Laura Owens, Jeff Koons and Wade Guyton, among others, were in part made possible thanks to their support. As Director, I am very grateful.”
Awwww! True love!
And no amount of elaborate social media apologies will allow me to forget the Whitney’s choice to show Dana Schutz’s Open Casket. So excuse me if I’m not liking those posts.
Beyond just getting my knickers in a knot looking at art world Instagram, my inbox is full of solidarity with Black communities from institutions like MoMA, who not only take money from people who profit off of private prisons and private goon squads like Larry Fink and Jeffrey Epstein’s BFF Leon Black, but place them at the head of their board! Or on a lesser level, I’ve also been receiving email after email from institutions, nonprofits, and galleries that I know have no Black staff members and rarely show Black artists. But, please tell me how you’re anti-racist.
At some point the art industry has to recognize that they are tools of white supremacy sustained with the money of those that profit off of brutality and the ongoing subjugation of Black people. And actively work to change it. But, wake me up when that happens.
Phew–and I just meant to write a short introduction! Anyway…
Since I’m sitting around and feeling relatively useless, spending way too much time for way too long online, I’ve collected some websites and Twitter threads here highlighting resources that I’ve found helpful this week created and shared by folks much more knowledgeable and experienced in anti-racist activism than me. Now, this is by no means exhaustive and I’m certainly no expert, but I wanted to share in case you don’t have endless time to stare, hazy-eyed, at every screen you own like me. These sites and threads contain some concrete actions that can be taken, including signing petitions, donating to individuals and organizations, contacting elected officials about policies and reforms, supporting Black-owned businesses, sharing resources online, and reading anti-racist materials, to support Black lives, get justice for victims of police brutality, enact policies to protect Black communities, and sustain anti-racist activism:
Ways To Help Carrd, including petitions, places to donate (to victims, protesters, Black-owned businesses, organizations, and other important places), places to text, call, or email to demand legislation, resources for protesters, among other helpful info. It’s got almost everything, if not actually everything
Since I’ve had COVID and live in NYC, going to give COVID Bail Out NYC an extra plug
And some helpful Twitter threads (click on the tweet to open the thread):
Mireille Cassandra Harper’s 10 Steps To Non-Optical Allyship
@IMANISHANTE’s list of donation links to memorialize Black trans people, and resources to provide relief:
Jessika Davidson-Jefferson’s thread of Black museums (maybe donate or get a membership there instead of the Whitney, the Guggenheim, or MoMA):
@ivysteaco’s thread of things to buy from Black-owned businesses