I'm a Web Architect at a museum in Chicago and a social justice activist. As a facilitator, educator and strategic planner, my activism work focuses on institutional healing and accountability from historic traumas like colonialism, slavery, genocide, and war. I'm a long-time volunteer with Resilience, Chicago's largest rape crisis center, I'm a regular contributor at The Incluseum, and my writing has been featured in Model View Culture, Fwd: Museums and the Journal for Museum Education. You will also find me playing guitar and stand-up bass, hiking, making herbal medicines, and drinking warm glasses of chai on cold winter nights.
MASS Action Facilitation Guides
Over the course of 2018, I collaborated with a group of folks at my museum to facilitate monthly reading groups on the MASS Action toolkit open to all staff. We went month-by-month discussing one chapter of the toolkit at a time until we finished. The reading group sessions were attended by 20-70 people per month over two repeated sessions. We pulled out themes from each chapter and organized activities to help staff engage with each other and the content. The groups were a great success. We shared copies of our facilitation guides on Google Drive for folks who want to organize similar reading groups at their organizations:
Check it out on Google Drive
Curated Outfitters Instagram takeover
During MASS Action 2018, I took over the Curated Outfitters Instagram account to post cute fashion photos of attendees. There was so much to document and so little time, I captured only a slice of the on-point cuteness that was present at the convening. I posted most of the photos in the days after I can home, so it was a nice way to say goodbye to all the new people I met and dear friends I got to connect with while there.
Check it out on Instagram
Radical South Asian history workshop at Chicago Desi Youth Rising
As part of Chicago Desi Youth Rising’s annual retreat, I co-organized and co-facilitated a workshop creating space to imagine and outline a radical history of South Asia. Our intention was to explore erasures that have existed over time due to colonialism, genocide, and war, and create alliances with other surviving communities of traumatic histories including slavery. I’ve been a supporter of Chicago Desi Youth Rising since the project started in 2014 (my partner was one of the co-founders, and I designed their logo!), so I was thrilled to bring the facilitation work that I do in museum communities to my radical South Asian community.
Facing Sexual Harassment and Abuse in the Feminizing Museum
In this article, Aletheia Wittman and I discuss data collected through a survey conducted about incidences of sexual abuse and harassment experienced by museum workers. We explore the results of the survey in relation to the gender-based division of labor and skills among the museum workforce. We look to the responses to this survey as a gauge of how much power women and gender non-conforming people have in their daily work lives in museums and propose actions that could increase empowerment and support. In light of events of the moment, The Journal’s publisher has generously made the article available to the general public.
Check it out on Journal of Museum Education
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.
Following is a short talk that I gave at the Facilitated Conversation About Inclusion and Equity in Conservation and Preservation that took place before the American Institute for Conservation conference in May 2017. Afterwards are some details of the event.
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’ve been discussions 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 on 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.