I will be going back to see the exhibit again this weekend. I found it to be quite challenging, but not for the exact reasons that you gave.
I found it challenging because it is difficult to talk about race in the context of an exhibition that makes the case that “race” does not exist except as a human construct. It is as though we do not have an appropriate language to use, because that human construct has so defined how we talk, think and make laws that we do not know what words to use to think in any other way.
The exhibit, heavy as it is in the use of text and words, seems to be moving us toward something that is unexpressed or perhaps inexpressible, given the limitations of the box we have constructed.
If it is an error for me to define you as black or white, because there is no objective basis to that distinction, it is also an error for you to define yourself that way, though of course you have the right to be wrong! Are we really willing to go there?
If race is a simply a human construct and the diversity of human traits are a continuum of colors of beige and brown or slight variations in shape of skulls and bones, then there is a potent message for all of us, racists and non-racists alike.
If there is no reality to our identities of “white” or “black” or “Asian” other than the invention we bring to it, then that preposition calls into question not just the ignorant abhorrent words and actions of those who spread hatred in the name of racial superiority, it also challenges the rest of us for whom that racial identity has been a means to gather political strength, unity and means to oppose that hatred through organized action.
In effect, if race does not exist, then “White Power” and “Black Power” are equally invalid.
It seems to me that the exhibit seeks to define “racism” not simply in the pejorative sense of the Ku Klux Klan or the local Republican Party. Instead, racism is defined as a system of classifying people, whether it is how others define us inappropriately, or how we define ourselves through identity politics. And that is a big difference.
What we need to invent now is a new truly inclusive language that will allow us to discuss these issues more broadly and in a way that does not posit human beings in oppositional relation to each other.
How will that happen? I don’t know, but this sort of change can happen over time. At one time, we divided ourselves into pools of hard laboring serfs or lords of luxury. Though we may feel sometimes that we still live in that era, we do not define ourselves in that way anymore. But the future is risky for all of us, if we truly want move beyond race. But it certainly is a risk worth exploring.
Chaim Deloye: read the comments at the end of the article which point again to longstanding administrative deficiencies at the RPO and support for Remmereit.
I am astonished that I am receiving supportive text messages and e-mails from strangers because of these few comments I have made on City's web site. RPO fans are nice people, many of whom just want to enjoy good music, but beneath that genteel surface there appears to be dissatisfaction with RPO that is fairly longstanding.
As time goes on, it seems that regardless of how one feels about Remmereit, unless there are some significant adjustments to the RPO Board and Staff, that this controversy will not abate. There is significant prestige that goes with being an RPO Board Member, but that donation is not admission to a private club. It is a work ticket. I would imagine that there is some social embarrassment to a Board Member that must resign for the sake of the organization, and that is a disincentive for the Board to face the hard facts. So we get stuck because of ego. But I believe that the RPO can find a graceful way for the transition to happen.
This controversy, as difficult as it is, especially for the Mr. Remmereit, is an opportunity to open dialogue within the RPO and larger community about securing the future of this organization. The enthusiasm that the alternate Board has brought to the discussion is precisely the vehicle that will enable that progress forward. Instead of feeling threatened by this tremendous energy, the RPO should be encouraging it. But that necessary dialogue, it seems, is not likely to happen with this secretive and insular current Board who has lost the confidence of not everyone, but of too many.
An important perspective from a musician if City News will allow the link:
I was talking to mystery man "Steve," but I will quickly respond.
1. Yes, let's have a big, open dialogue. Unfortunately, Chair Rice is doing whatever she can to silence the alternate Board.
2. It seems that some Board members did try to do address major issues on the Board before resigning. Sometimes it is better to work on the outside than inside such a dysfunctional Board organization.
3. Elected representatives have a responsibility to ensure that tax dollars are spent appropriately. I do not advocate cuts, but I do think that our elected officials should acknowledge that there major problems in the current Board that raise questions about public support and confidence in the organization.
4. I am excited to hear the plans that the highly committed members of community, known as the alternate board, will have to say about creating a positive future for the RPO. So far we have no vision for the future from Rice and her supporters on the Board. But the current RPO Board is not monolithic or "evil."
Meanwhile Steve, who are you?
1. How about given us your identity instead of hiding behind anonymity. There has been entirely too much Board secrecy and lack of transparency. Why must you contribute this problem?
2. I don't think the problem will go away until there are several Board resignations. That process should begin immediately, so we do not waste any more time.
3. You are right. Much of the public does not care about the RPO and that problem is getting worse by the minute, but the RPO receives a great deal of public (state and local) funds and if the Board does not respond with resignations, I suspect that pressure will be applied to public officials. After all, tax dollars are involved.
4. The alternate Board has the best opportunity to save the RPO at this point by enacting reforms and transparency that the current board seems incapable of. They have the enthusiasm and drive to return the orchestra to the "heights it has deserved." The public, audiences, funders and supporters have lost too much faith in the current Board for it to succeed.
Smith: You don't get it. The Board was more comfortable with gossip about the Musical Director than trying to secure the future of the RPO. It made them feel like they were really doing something, when in fact they were engaged in an enterprise of damaging the RPO further. They were NOT taking care of business and wasted much time in idle gossip about the MD. This was thoroughly mismanaged by Rice and she should take responsibility for her actions, because the largest failure in this story is hers.
The Remmereit controversy was manufactured, consciously or not, by Board Chair Rice and some members of the Board and organization as a diversion from the far larger, very real problem of the RPO's shaky financial situation. Remmerreit is not the real problem. Ensuring that the RPO even exists three years from now is the elephant in the corner that the Board is not capable of addressing. It is much more fun to waste Board time and energy on personality differences than the real hard core fiscal crisis. This is common in small organizations and on reality TV shows, but we would expect a better performance from the RPO. It is a large failure of the Board, and especially Rice, that this diversion was allowed to happen at all. So it doesn't look good for Rice 's vitae either!
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