Bitch, Be Realistic
In February 2017, Kamilah Rashied invited me to join in a feminist conversation to explore the narratives of women in their lives. I talked about my mother’s lifelong commitment to gain independence from the patriarchy, and the journey that brought her to the United States. She was in the audience that night, and it was the first time she heard me narrate her own story back to her, with my own interpretations of what her story says about her, and how she’s affected my life as a pro-feminist man. It was also her 75th birthday, and the whole audience indulged me in singing happy birthday to her!
Intersections: The Gender Box
As a volunteer educator at Rape Victim Advocates, I joined a friend at the Art Institute of Chicago to give a lunchtime public gallery talk the gender box. We discussed common ways people define binary notions of gender, and how these stereotypes are often used to justify the perpetuation of gender-based violence. From this lens, we then looked at two paintings depicting very different images of women: Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist and The Abduction of the Sabine Women.
The Gathering: Everyone is Talented
In November 2016, I joined two other local artists—Evan La Ruffa and Miguel Aguilar—at the Art Institute of Chicago to have a conversation facilitated by Kamilah Rashied to explore how creativity informs social transformation. It was in the days after the U.S. election, and I was feeling particularly emotional that night. I shared some questions I had been simmering on about whether museums need to exist at all anymore, and some vulnerable connections I have with colonialism, and I how that informs my activism work. It was a powerful conversation.
MCN is one of two museum technology conferences that happen annually. While there are many talks and conversations diving deep into technical topics, the conference is most known for its threads on organizational culture and social transformation. Following are some of my major takeaways.
To the tune of “wheels on the bus:”
Last night I gave an Ignite talk at MCN 2015 in Minneapolis about museums and oppression. An Ignite talk is a 5 minute presentation with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. I fit a lot in there, so I thought it might be useful for folks at the conference to refer back to what I said. Below is a video, my slides, and the text from my talk, entitled Towards an Anti-Oppression Museum Manifesto:
Thoughts on how the board game Catan replicates early U.S. treatment of indigenous and black people for Indigenous People’s Day:
Several months ago, I wrote an article for the Incluseum blog breaking down ideas of oppression for the museum community: Oppression: A Museum Primer. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s been discussion among museum professionals questioning if and how our institutions should participate in the movements that have arisen from Ferguson in some way. As I’m sure many people in the conversation have been, I’ve been extremely affected by the recent decisions to not indict law enforcement in the killings of unarmed black people, and these recent injustices have occupied my mind a great deal in recent weeks. I recognize that these decisions are part of a history of the state murdering black people with impunity that goes back hundreds of years. I also recognize that this history includes the murder of and sexual violence against women and trans folks as well, whose stories are often met with silence. With this weight, I share in the great mix of emotions many of us are experiencing. And if we do talk about responding in some way, I want it to be based in reason and compassion, with an understanding of our relationships with black people and our shared histories.
Over the past year, I’ve gotten together with a group of three of my friends who are men every two months or so to read writings by feminist authors. We’ve read fiction, non-fiction and essays by feminist writers, mostly women of color. It’s been fun for me to connect with my friends in a new way, and for all of us to grow our thinking together and be critical of ways in which we participate in sexism, male domination and rape culture. Here’s essentially what I did to get it going:
During a panel about open authority at #MCN2014, I was struck by a question Porchia Moore asked: “why don’t visitors of color participate at the rates of other groups?” This is a question that I’ve pondered myself for some time, and I appreciated her creating space for discussion with other museum professionals.
For some years now, I’ve been wanting to rethink Diwali in a way that celebrates the holiday as an expression of my wishes and hopes for a new year. In a conversation about pujas and Hindu ritual this week, a friend said to me “personally, the best prayers are those that are from the heart.” Her words inspired me to let go of my longing for finding connection in rituals that I don’t understand to create an expression of ritual that is meaningful to me. I still appreciate that many Hindu rituals have been performed for a long time by people all over the world, there’s something powerful about sharing in a common consciousness through shared ritual. But this year, I thought I’d take some of the information and perspectives shared with me over the past several years to think about what a celebration of Diwali would be like that fully resonated with me.
I’ve been hearing about Linked Open Data for years. I’ve sat in on sessions at conferences and followed many discussions on Twitter and e-mail lists. At times, the tone of these conversations seemed like “this is such an awesome tool that nobody is using.” But I never really understood what it was. I was left still wondering “WTF is Linked Open Data?”