She’s “standing up to injustice,” in the eyes of New York City’s mayor. Meanwhile, a territorial artist claims that she’s infringing on his space—and has hired a leading civil rights attorney to back up his claims. And skeptical scribes have dismissed her as a PR stunt.
I say that Fearless Girl should stay, but on one condition: That she’s joined by her natural counterpart, Righteous Brother.
Blacks, after all, clearly have a right to the same Lower Manhattan turf, given that slaves built the original wall that gave the Street its name. There was also a slave market just a few blocks away from the spot where Bull meets Girl.
Debuted just before International Women’s Day in early March, Kristen Visbal’s statue launched a larger campaign by State Street Advisors, a $2.4 trillion investment firm, to promote gender equity among financial executives. The Village Voice’s Nick Pinto quickly pointed out that State Street’s own ranks of women in upper-management hover only around 25 percent.
That number corresponds with wider financial industry patterns, with the highest total of female executives (at Bank of America) reaching just 34 percent. Men without hue indeed dominate Wall Street’s top echelon, with only around 12-14 percent of senior positions held by people of color.
Meanwhile, just under 3 percent of top positions in the financial sector are held by blacks. That disparity provides one main reason why Righteous Brother should stand beside his sister.
The damage that Wall Street and the financial sector have done to Black America in the wake of the mortgage crisis is another. As Bernie Sanders noted on the campaign trail last year, blacks lost 50 percent (or more) of their net wealth (from 2005-2013) as a result of Wall Street’s subprime schemes.
What better way for Wall Street to redress its plunder than play host to an inspiring statue?
Brooklyn artist Al Diaz, who collaborated with Basquiat on SAMO©, says that pop artist Ron English would be “the ideal candidate” to help create a 3-D likeness of Righteous Brother. English calls his work Popaganda, and his notorious Temper Tot could be a model.
Gabriel Koren, the sculptor responsible for the great Frederick Douglass statue in Harlem, is also a worthy candidate. A few years ago, she was facing eviction from her Brooklyn studio. Kara Walker, whose 2014 installation at the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg spotlighted the history of slavery in NYC, needs to be part of the discussion as well.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio rose to power in 2013 based on his pledge to end “A Tale of Two Cities.” Now, rather than see her as a poster child for Lean-in corporate feminism, he views Fearless Girl as a warrior against the “unfettered capitalism” represented by the Bull.
Inter-racial solidarity can help win this fight. And so, lest we witness the rise of “A Tale of Two Statues,” de Blasio must let Fearless Girl be joined by her Righteous Brother.