A List For Those Considering Diversity When Complacency Wasn't Enough
This is a list of questions that can be used by institutions as they further their desires to critically engage in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the artistic endeavors that they promote and curate. It can also be used for individuals who generally want to begin the work of questioning themselves and how they can understand their own positionality in relation to issues of inclusion, equity, and diversity. This is only a starting point and is in no way an exhausted list which will lead to an ultimate enlightenment. As the final question in the list suggests, such a state will only come from a consistent practice of including these, and more, thought processes into one's daily life.
Also this list is not only geared towards white artists, curators, institutions, etc. It can also be used to tease out the work that each of us, regardless of cultural grounding, can do to dismantle conscious and unconscious perpetuation of oppression and denial of space, agency, and voice.
This list will continually be updated and if you have any suggestions, thoughts, or comments please contact PhotoGreenBook@gmail.com or send a DM via Instagram at @PhotoGreenbook.
This list was made with the contributions of Emanuel Admassu, Anita Batment, Becci Davis, Odette England,Sarah Pfohl, Sarah Smith, Jay Simple
- What does diversity mean?
- What does inclusion mean?
- What is the White Gaze?
- How do ideas of diversity and inclusion intersect within curatorial practices as a whole?
- How does the White Gaze influence diversity and inclusion?
- Were you acculturated in systems that promoted normalizing whiteness? How has this impacted you? What steps have you taken to unlearn those acculturated behaviors and biases?
- When you think of including multiple perspectives by considering diverse voices, how do you prepare to do so? How do you implement it?
- What attributes make you able to curate diverse voices and let your decisions not be influenced by a culture that promotes white heteronormative patriarchal norms? If you don’t have any of these attributes, have you ever made space for curators from diverse communities to implement these curations?
- When curating are nationality, “race”, gender, or other social markers the only way you consider diversity? If yes, why. If not, what other ways do you consider?
- Do you have to look like someone else or be from where they are from, to interpret and understand the value of their work? Explain why or why not.
- What is Intersectionality?
a. How does this theory influence your way of thinking of connections between different groups including yourself.
b. How does it influence the way you curate and create narratives about social issues that include multiple voices.
- What are your biases when dealing with diverse communities?( Here a bias can be considered as notions which are founded in fact or socially constructed fictions. So the question is holistically do you hold thoughts about certain groups of people which apply to thoughts on the individual character of those member groups)
a. How does this influence your ability to curate and advocate for diversity and inclusion.
- Do you have a statement about the purposes of your organization? Does this include statements about diversity and inclusion? Why does it or why does it not?
- What are the demographics of the artist you supported over the past 12 months?
a. What does this tell you about your curation practice in relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Does the work you choose from diverse communities do any of the following:
❏ Teach YOU something?
❏ Engage with contemporary conversations?
❏ Use contemporary methodology?
- If it teaches you something does that mean it is advancing the critical dialogue of that community? Or more direct, how do you inform what makes up critical dialogue concerning creative and intellectual production of communities you are not a member of or familiar with?
- If the diverse work you curate engages with contemporary conversations, how do contemporary conversations subversively or directly perpetuate cultural norms of whiteness? How does this also apply to contemporary methodology?
- From answering the past two questions, are you choosing “diversity” that aligns with white patriarchal cultural norms but come in a different “skin”? If no, how do you avoid doing so, if yes what are some ways you can avoid doing it in the future?
- If you curate diverse groups of work. List what communities you have supported and show work from. Next to that community list 10 additional artists from that community that relates to the work that you have supported. Name 5 books written by members of the artist’s community that inform their work(you have to read these books).
- What does your ability to or to not answer the above say about your ability to promote diversity?
- Does your personal and professional life bring you in contact with people who perpetuate white patriarchal hierarchies? How do you personally confront these issues within your social circle? If you do not confront them, why not?
- What are the daily actions you take to promote and embody inclusion and diversity?
- Does your curation team/staff/juror pool reflect diverse backgrounds and perspectives?
- Can you describe the specific ways in which you believe you are currently ensuring diversity(not future or hopeful ideas, current ways only)?
- How are you managing/addressing those difference in people that are invisible
- What does cultural equity look like for you?
- How are actively recognizing the transitions or rituals of others in the work that you do/promote?
- How do you accommodate different languages (spoken, performed, etc)
- How are you ensuring that diversity and inclusivity and equity are being managed as three separate things (because each is different and important)
- How transparent are you being - to whom, where, when, and how?
- Whose culture(s) count/are counted? Who is recognized as an artist?
- Name recruitment strategies you’ve implemented for not only hiring curators of color, but making sure retention is part of the work culture of your institution.
- Does your organization as a whole practice inclusion of diverse representation among its staff and collaborators? Does it strive to create an atmosphere of care, empathy, honesty that allows for all voices to be heard and valued? If not, how can you incorporate these practices into the culture of your organization?
- Name important ways you’ve divested from perpetuating or asking for significant emotional labor from cultural workers, artists, or diverse voices to help diversify your institution.
- How have you approached diversifying or decolonizing your acquisition/collections practices?
- How do you empower or show up for the community in which your institution is situated?
- Does your institution financially compensate its workers equitably? Are there metrics in place that show the percentage of full time staff that is POC? Explain why or why not.
- Does your institution formally recognize union-ed employees?
- Have you ever found yourself penalizing workers of color who have been vocal against discrimination they’ve faced? Relatedly, do you actively support anti-discrimination or zero tolerance policies in your professional and personal life?
- Do hiring practices for faculty and administrators reflect the diversity of the student body? If not, are you actively looking to hiring BIPOC, womxn, and LGBTQ+ for faculty and administrative positions so students are reflected in the institution they attend?
- Knowing that studies have proven student evaluations to be biased against BIPOC and womxn, are you finding alternative ways to evaluate faculty for tenure and promotion? Can we dismiss student evaluations altogether as they have never accurately reflected classroom successes and failures?
- Knowing that exhibition and publishing opportunities are skewed towards white cis men, how are you evaluating BIPOC and womxn faculty for tenure and promotion?
- Relative to physical disabilities, who/which bodies can physically access the space/s over which you have power and influence? Can 100% of the people who want to enter the space/s over which you have power and influence reliably do so? Is it possible for folks who use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or other mobility assistive devices to get to the space and then physically enter the space (e.g. move through the door frame)? If there is a door, can folks with disabilities (e.g. a person of shorter stature, a person with less physical strength) realistically open it? Can 100% of the people who want to engage with the space/s over which you have power and influence do so realistically, without harm to themselves, and without being spotlighted?
- When you meet or work with a person who uses an interpreter do you address the person (rather than the interpreter) when communicating?
- When you encounter a situation in which an accommodation challenges the norms you've set or desire (e.g. you're a teacher and request a screen-free class then receive an accommodation from a student in the class that says they are required to have access to and use a screen-based device during class meetings to support their learning) are you able to reconfigure or transform your ideas and expectations? How far do you go to ensure inclusion relative to ability?
- The work we do as cultural producers (curators, artists, educators, etc.) carries implicit values and arguments embedded within it. With this in mind, in curating an exhibition or selecting artist examples to share with your students relative to a particular identity group or groups do you work to make selections that tell various (rather than singular) stories and/or communicate a wide variety of ideas about the identity group/s of focus? In other words, what diversity of representations and perspectives do you work to locate and then share out? For example, in bringing together a group of images related to disability one might seek images that: are made by individuals with disabilities; are made by other disability community stakeholders; speak to various ways in which ability non-normativity presents relative to the body (visibly, non-visibly, physically, cognitively, psychologically, emotionally, etc.); speak to disability as a social construct; speak to disability rights history and culture.
Note From Contributor: These questions are for Black and Brown people who are interviewing for jobs at PWI. I know asking some of these questions has kept me from getting certain teaching positions but it is important to be aware of the way we might be instrumentalized by these powerful institutions
- There is an incredible amount of invisible labor that is expected and required from Black and Brown workers in Predominantly White Institutions. What support systems do you have in place to address these inequities?
- How are you addressing the epistemic violence embedded in Western academic and cultural institutions? How do your artistic, curatorial, or pedagogical practices work to actively dismantle this violence?
- How are you introducing, engaging with, or promoting non-Western, non-white, non-heteronormative thought processes and value systems?
- What systems are in place to make sure that your white workers can educate each other on issues of diversity and inclusion without relying on their non-white colleagues?
- How does your institution address the complex overlaps between race and capitalism? Are there specific systems of mutual aid, or separatist spaces that are being supported by your institution?
- How does your institution support specific organizations and activist groups that are actively fighting white supremacy?
- How does your institution support the working-class Black and Brown communities in the city or town where it is located? How does it provide welcoming environments for these communities?
- From these questions how would you judge your readiness to be an advocate for diverse voices?
- Make a list of daily actions you WILL take to better your practice of inclusion. Complete them and make a new list. Do it daily, weekly, monthly, yearly until you’ve exhausted every possible thought.