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Soul Seasoning

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E'rybody in the Othered Art World is harrumphing over the review of "Now Dig This" in the New York Times. Asses firmly on their shoulders, over one thousand petitioners called for an acknowledgement of the "editorial lapse" that allowed "irresponsible generalities" to be applied to women and black artists. And since the author of the article is white (gasp!) and male (shriek!), Othered folks and their familiars have championed to chastise him weeks beyond the publish date.

I think that is some bullshit.

As a Southerner, I am well-versed in the lunacies of white people. As a black woman, I am mildly intrigued by their various expressions of privilege, but I've recently discovered that I am more interested in embracing the power of my own agency than bolstering a colonial position through reactionary means. I've scoured the Internet looking for critical writings about the exhibition authored by an Other (even a white woman will suffice), but I haven't found much beyond generic public relations texts and a series of eloquent tirades detailing The Wrongness of Ken Johnson. The whole exchange, from the petition, to the ever-scrolling Facebook feeds, seem to nourish the inherent patriarchy of institutions like the New York Times, rather than expand the conversation beyond these powerfully limited structures. Make no mistake, I love a well-known institution. Their brands are generally an abbreviation for quality, and if you're affiliated there's a high probability of access to resources. As an added benefit, even the folks back home can connect your relative joblessness with something worthwhile; but to rely so heavily upon these institutions as a conduit for change is so pre-Obama.

The current buzz is arguably a lucrative marketing push for the New York Times, as various media outlets align their coverage with an approved codex of the usual suspects, and the initiator of the petition, William Villalongo, is pushed to the fringes. Curiously, Others (and their familiars) act as if institutions create themselves, that entry is by invitation only and that interactions should be policed by an approved code of etiquette. All the energy we spend policing ourselves and Others could be better used to populate the dialogue with a diversified array of voices. A cacophony of both idiocy and genius, serving as soul seasoning for a bitches brew.

I wish I could say something like "we need to take back our voice," (delivered in an impassioned Valley-girl twang) but since we're living in an age where virtually anyone can voice an opinion online, I'll ride with pragmatism and deadpan "closed mouths don't get fed." Full disclosure? I'm still salty about the fact that the Ken Johnson fuckery garnered over a thousand signatures and I couldn't get 30 black folks at the MoMA, but that's a tale for another day. Until I then, Ima keep putting my two dollars in, making it rain for the revolution.