A few things struck me about the note just issued by Jeremy Strick, the director of the Nasher Sculpture Center. 1) The museum had some of its windows smashed, and looters hit the gift store. Strick’s sentiment resonates all the louder because he wrote this while his museum is literally broken. 2) This is some quality writing (which is why I’m sharing it). And 3) Jerry Jones is going to have to work super hard when he writes his statement. That’s the thing about waiting so long. Your stuff gets compared to everyone’s work who preceded you. Here’s what Strick has to say:
No decent person can view the video of the killing of George Floyd without feeling pain, revulsion, anger. And yet, what inspires greatest outrage is the knowledge that, but for the fact of its being recorded on video, this murder would have been committed with impunity, like the countless murders and acts of violence committed against African Americans and other peoples of color from the earliest years of our nation’s history to the present day.
Over the past weekend, places around the nation were damaged, and while we regret the damage, we acknowledge that these incidents pale to insignificance when placed in the context of an overwhelming and ongoing history of institutionalized racial violence, inequality, injustice. Too often in moments of civil unrest, calls for social improvement are joined to condemnation of acts of civil and uncivil disobedience, an apparent even-handedness that represents a false and pernicious equivalence. These occasional outbursts of destruction, however lamentable and misdirected, cannot be compared to the grinding history of subjugation to which they respond. At the Nasher, as much as we hope for the cessation of violence and a return to peace, we recognize that peace without justice is no peace at all.
Art museums are not at the core of our nation’s ills, and indeed they perform great good. But museums, like all institutions, cannot be separated from, and indeed derive benefit from the same social structures that have used institutionalized violence against people of color as the tip of their spear. While over the years the Nasher has taken measures to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have not done enough.
Going forward, we will strive to do more and do better, inside and outside our walls, advancing diversification of staff and programs and enriching outreach, while providing a forum for voices from the community and activating our channels of communication to advocate for change. Out of this moment of grief and pain will come new resolve to right a multitude of wrongs, and the actions to do so.