MLM Ferguson Readings
These readings were excellent. Thought-provoking reads.
My take-home messages:
-Social responsibility as cultural institutions in communities.
-Relationships! Nothing will be “right,” with out that solid base.
-Museums and other cultural institutions as “welcoming” places for ALL, not a select few (“the Temple” concept)
My notes on each reading:
American Alliance of Museums: Diversity & Inclusion Policy
Key words: respect, values, celebrate diversity = institutional excellence
All members, partners, key stakeholders + board/staff/etc: embrace these values..
How do institutions hold their staff responsible for this?
Articulating policies are critical, but leadership demonstration from Boards, managers, etc is even more critical. Museums are community leaders.
Best quotes: “Even when people appear the same on the outside, they are different.”
“Diversity always exists in social systems. Inclusion, on the other hand, must be created.”
New England Museum Association – Advocacy
Contradiction between personal consciences and the institution can cause problems, which may make museums reluctant to engage publicly.
“Think Tank” sessions – great idea on how to make museums more socially responsible and involved in social change, dialogue, problem-solving.
Best quotes: “As key pillars of their communities, museums play an important role in helping make sense of life’s
challenges, contextualizing the news, and improving the circumstances of the people they serve. The great power of museums is their ability to transform the lives of individuals who walk through their doors. Their greater power, and fundamental duty in my opinion, is to act as agents of transformation to society as a whole.”
Museum Commons.com: Practical Compassion
What is the appropriate role for museums? Should they be more responsive to community issues? Regular engagement (not reactionary/issue-specific); Collaborate (use facilitated discussion so everyone is heard); Talk to key stakeholders first – this is OK, but make sure not railroaded by stakeholder reticence or power to sway institution action; Staff: community involvement, leadership- this s a really important point. Why? Networks…but more importantly, relationships! That is foundational.
#Black Lives Matter Movement, Nik Hill
Shared histories – we are not homogenous, so respect diverse opinion and share it.
Actions matching words.
Best quotes: “…fear that our institutions are not staying relevant.”
“Making statements in support of the current movements won’t fundamentally change the ways in which we relate to black people in our communities. I recognize that our silence is complicity, but I don’t think we have to jump further ahead than where we are. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our communities about where we need to criticize our selves, strengthen our relationships and let’s work to build the trust that will help us grow sustaining relationships with black people in our communities. Those actions will speak louder than any of our words ever could.”
Anti-Oppression Museum Manifesto, Nik Hill
“Why don’t persons of color participate at same rates as other groups?” by Porchia Moore.
– Uneven power distribution
– Who is telling the stories? Through what lenses ar stories being told? (consider multiple perspectives, generations, etc)
– Fiscal decisions – constrained budgets, “open and honest” can lead to decreased visitors and interest, loss of base = loss of funding = survival issues
Best quote: “For museums to truly be a forum for visitors of color, and not a temple for those with privilege”
Assoc of African American Museums – Samuel Black, Pres., statement on behalf of AAAM Conference (AAAM)
Use education and outreach, creativity to contextualize African American (or any) struggle. Collaborative of museums, curators, designers, artists, poets, playwrights” – continue to tell the story as people the freedom/democracy/justice.
Taking a position. AAAM certainly did! This was a very powerful, strong, (and possibly politically risky) statement for the President of AAAM:
“As a national organization and like most Americans of conscience we cannot sit idly by as unchecked police power cheapens our lives and creates a “failure of government not witnessed since the dark days of lynching.”
Incluseum: Museums and Social Inclusion: Chieko Philllips and Leilani Lewis (NAAM)
Assoc of African American Museums (AAAM) – statement bloggers response
NW African American Museum’s response to Ferguson
“An act of learning, healing, protest and community”
Relevance again- and shifting cultural landscapes – make museums more relevant?
“Journalist Charles Mudede posed this question in his complimentary article, “Northwest African American Museum Just Became a Lot More Relevant” published on September 10, 2014, in
Seattle’s weekly newspaper, The Stranger.” Relevance as the “golden egg of the museum field”
-Museums lay ground work for collaboration (real-time, social media, collective mobilization = provide opportunities to engage and act.)
-High value on collaborative: multidisciplinary, multiage, multigenerational, multicultural: identity is dependent on this
-“Conduit of Connectivity” –I loved this! rather than claiming the spotlight – networking, “democratization of museums by creating spaces for multiple voices to be heard.”
#BlackLivesMatter (Feminist Wire), Alicia Garza
Conference calls created space for open communication
All Lives Matter – dropping the “black” from “lives matter” meant erasing, furthering the divisive legacy, “a watered down unity” – had not really thought about that.
Ferguson Must Force Us to Face Anti-Blackness, Op-Ed Michael Jeffries
Michael P. Jeffries is an associate professor of American studies at Wellesley College, author of “Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America.” National shame; polarizing.
Best Quote: “Chants of “black lives matter!” have not weakened the critique of institutional
racism; they have strengthened it. And if we are to survive, they must grow louder.”
Joint Statement Museum Bloggers/Colleagues on Ferguson
Museums are part of educational/cultural network (Schools/ed orgs, teachers; arts orgs; pop culture icons).
Museums are “mediators of culture” – this is very true…it’s important for them to connect with contemporary issues – regardless of museum’s collection, focus, mission. Silence can speak volumes – at the time of the blog publication, only Assoc of African American Museums had joined the statement:
“We believe that the silence of other museum organizations sends a message that these issues are the concern only of African Americans and African American Museums.”
Role of museums as institutions that claim to conduct activities for public benefit – and what can they do? Connections between museums and social justice:
1.Look at own staff diversity/equity in policy and practice. It’s hard but they must institute policies and work hard on them, have internal discussions, treat one another on staff with the respect they want in community.
2.Helping volunteers and partners: race, violence, community – volunteers are a very difficult issue. Not on payroll, volunteering time, often not supervised.
3.Offer museum meeting space for meetings and conversations. – that’s good.
4.Join the community to address issues (“respond and invest”)
Best quotes: “The recent series of events, from Ferguson to Cleveland and New York, have created a watershed moment. Things must change. New laws and policies will help, but any movement toward greater cultural and racial understanding and communication must be supported by our country’s cultural
and educational infrastructure.”
We believe that strong connections should exist between museums and their communities. Forging those connections means listening and responding to those we serve and those we wish
Diversity of museums = diversity of perspectives! Example: American Alliance of Museums (http://www.aam-us.org/); theAssociation of Science-Technology Centers; (http://www.astc.org/) the Association of Children’s Museums (http://www.childrensmuseums.org/); American Association for State and Local History (http://about.aaslh.org/home/). In Boise: ISHS, BAM, Black History Museum, Basque Museum & Cultural Center, Discovery Center, Peregrine Fund World Center for Birds of Prey, local city museums, WarHawk, Old Pen, oh and what in the world will JUMP bring?
Social Justice Alliance for Museums
Joining of organizations, individuals to encourage debate about the museum’s role in “promoting racial equality and cultural understanding.”
Get involved…this was from Liverpool; international organization.