Five articles about race, art and how to create important work responsibly

I’ve been thinking about the complicated intersection between race, art and appropriation.

I’ve been thinking about the complicated intersection between race, art and appropriation. How can you make creative work about the topics that matter responsibly? Who owns collective pain? And, who gets to write about it? How can we navigate complex issues with some semblance of sensitivity and intersectionality, while also allowing for creative autonomy? I haven’t figured out very much, but, I did want to share some of the best reads on the topic. Things that made me pause and go ‘huh’, as I try to unravel the knot.

Hope you enjoy.

  • Getting In and Out, Zadie Smith

    Queen Zadie on the complexities of being biracial and how these arguments become flattened beyond all usefulness by those who can’t accommodate complexity. Her piece is filtered through the lens of ‘Get Out’ and an photography exhibition in New York’s Whitney Museum.

  • What are White Writers For?, Jess Row

    “We still live in a culture in which white people are very seldom stopped from doing anything they want to do, and when they are stopped or challenged, get extraordinarily upset about it. I’m one of them. I inherited this attitude and have inhabited it all my life. My term for it is “white dreamtime.” And waking up in the middle of a dream, as we all know, is an unpleasant experience. Shriver seems to believe that white writers—and white people generally—are entitled to a kind of public dreamtime, in which nothing they imagine or fantasize should be challenged, critiqued, or even interpreted.”

  • On HBO’s Confederate, Tah’Neshi Coates

    “African Americans do not need science-fiction, or really any fiction, to tell them that that “history is still with us.” It’s right outside our door. It’s in our politics. It’s on our networks. And Confederate is not immune.”  

  • What if Western media covered Charlottesville the same way it covers other nations?, Karen Attiah

    A little satire to help the medicine go down.  

  • How do you make a responsible movie about anorexia? Jia Tolentino

    Away from the topic of race, is it possible to make art about “socially contagious afflictions like anorexia and suicide”? Not only is it possible, it’s important. I saw and loved this film. I’m sure it’ll have its critics, but I also know that it will do a lot of good.


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