“Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant requires nothing from you but to be quiet and to not make waves.” Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T
Many of the individuals and corporations that fund our institutions agree – we must all be brave, speak up and work together to make real change.
Yesterday, as I listened to the opening statement of Dr. Porchia Moore, I noticed the frowns on the faces of many of the MASS Action participants.
Over 100 people from over 31 museums across the country were facing Dr. Moore as she tried to do justice to the topic of white supremacy in museums in a 10-minute presentation.
Dr. Moore was telling the truth, fearlessly pushing against rolled eyes, sighs, and suddenly crossed arms. Maybe she could not see the changes in posture that punctuated her slide changes. As a trained facilitator, I was sensitive to the paper rustling, throat clearing, and increased eye squints she was receiving. By the time her fellow panelists, the excellent Joanne Jones-Rizzi, Mike Murawski, and Gretchen Jennings, were done discussing their short presentations on museum responsiveness to community tragedy; myths of museum neutrality; and our social constructs of museums I was hopeful that the Q&A session would bring real dialogue.
Opportunistic: taking the opportunity to sit in this very privileged space and consume the energy, time and resources of others – ostensibly supporting social action, while simultaneously remaining committed to the status quo.
Cowards: because of fear, intimidation, or even disinterest, having no intention to bring the work of #MASSActionMia to your home institution.
The sensation that compelled me to speak out yesterday morning is a reality that I face daily. Our collective movement towards social justice is a long and iterative process, a journey with wins, losses, gains, and setbacks. Our responsibility is not to an art museum in Minnesota, our responsibility is to affect change in institutions across the country. We should not be passive responders, but truth seekers, bridge-builders and change makers actively creating the world we say we want to see.
I know that we can and must all do better. I know that we can and must all do it together, but it first starts by bravely telling the truth. I welcome all individual, community, institutional, public and corporate partners who wish to come together and act bravely to do the important work that I, many of my colleagues like Dr. Moore, corporate leaders like Randall Stephenson of AT&T, and others believe is critical to progress. Let’s all act bravely – together.