The demonstrations and pitched fights under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter – after the murder of George Lloyd at the hands of a white policeman – have made a dent in the depths of the United States. The international projection of the phenomenon, supported on the five continents, has managed to sensitize a large part of the political authorities and also the cultural institutions to the maximum. Racial conflict is on the table and there are entities that have been forced to make a move, being labeled as racist by their own employees.
Among them, the Guggenheim in New York stands out, which has just approved “a diversity plan” to guarantee the presence of African American, Hispanic, indigenous and Asian men and women, without forgetting the trans community. The museum’s directive is given a period of two years to launch a program of grants and agreements with universities, as well as to set up an ‘ad-hoc’ committee to supervise the acquisition of works and the content of the exhibitions with an interracial criterion. “All this means there will be a bigger front door; we will make sure there are more opportunities for more people. We want them to see that working in a museum is a solid career option, ”explains Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim.
Black Commissioner “humiliated”
The New York museum has tried to satisfy, in this way, the demands of the one hundred active employees (and as many retired) who in June sent a letter to the board in very harsh terms. In the letter they accused the Guggenheim of “a culture of institutional racism” and gave as an example “the mistreatment” suffered by the historian and journalist Chaédria LaBouvier, as the guest curator of an exhibition by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Apparently, what should have been a milestone to celebrate last year – the first time that an African American had organized an exhibition – ended up becoming “the worst of the humiliations because they made her feel neglected.”
That is the expression used by the collective of workers at the center. The injured party did not hesitate to post stronger words on Twitter, when reading the message of condolence from the Guggenheim on the death of George Lloyd. “It doesn’t screw you,” Chaédria LaBouvier wrote on June 2. The museum then hired a lawyer to fully investigate the circumstances in which the Basquiat exhibition had taken place. The results will take time but the New York institution has not wanted to wait. You already have a new roadmap.