After noticing a spike in her own job offers, Isis Davis-Marks asks why arts organisations wait to respond before improving levels of diversity.
The May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd by police marked a rupture in the collective US American psyche. Thousands of people around the world protested, looking for catharsis in the midst of a global pandemic that is disproportionately killing black and brown people. During the demonstrations, individuals held signs saying, “I can’t breathe,” carried depictions of Floyd’s likeness, and set fire to institutions they felt had wronged them for too long.
At the time, I was quarantining in my Manhattan apartment, so I couldn’t take to the streets. Instead, I endlessly scrolled past minuscule black squares on Instagram, lists of books singing praises of black authors who we all “need” to know, and video clips of Floyd’s final moments. Critics lauded once overlooked Black artists for their portrayals of Floyd and other victims of police brutality, like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. And lily-white publications compiled directories of black-owned galleries and museums and began suddenly reaching out to Black journalists for freelance assignments.
As a Black writer and artist, I wasn’t exempt from this. I saw the offers trickle in; editors wanted Black writing and galleries wanted art. While I was happy to receive these jobs and to share my work with the world, I wondered why the demand had to be preceded by such an appalling event... Keep reading on Hyperallergic.