This past weekend, I visited the special exhibit at the Heard Museum called “Dear Listener” by Nicholas Galanin. I took advantage of the Culture Pass program and got free tickets to check it out. I had no idea what to expect, but it ended up being a deeply emotional experience.
Recently, I have been finding myself in much more dialogue about white privilege and male privilege than ever before. Usually, I’m on a different side of this conversation. However, as a half-white, half-Asian woman who grew up middle class in the US, I am recognising my own privilege in writing this, here, on a social media outlet. I’m putting myself and my ego in check before this next part.
Check your privilege at the door.
This exhibit, if you let it, makes you question that privilege. Just because you were born white, male, tall, beautiful, middle class, why do you get to live an easier, more comfortable life than anyone else? Why does non-whiteness pose a subconscious threat? Why is a Native 4x more likely to be killed by a police officer than a white person? Why do we live in a culture where ‘other’ and ‘not like me’ (read: not white) automatically elicits suspicion or worse yet, fear.
Nicholas Galanin’s Dear Listener begs these questions. He (and his collaborators) use their art to make you face these inequalities outright. And then makes you think about how we can do better. Like I already said, this was an extremely emotional exhibit for me, but I’m glad I went. I highly recommend if you’re in Phoenix to see this and go in with no pretences and no walls of defensiveness. Listen. REALLY listen to these unheard voices. And cry, because if you go in with an open mind and heart, you will need to cry.
My heart hurts, but it’s also hopeful. Please, let’s not continue to repeat these atrocious stories.