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On Being Included

On Being Included is a special issue of Art Practical that serves as a resource for cultural practitioners who must negotiate the politics of inclusion, both inside and outside of institutional settings. The Special Issue was edited by Latipa, Director of the Memory and Resistance Laboratory, and Yusef, Director of the Southern California Library.

As more and more museums, universities, and galleries center once marginalized artists and radical social movements in their exhibitions, programming, and audiences, On Being Included asserts that it is urgent to reflect on the politics of this inclusion, who it serves, and what it means for us as cultural producers to participate. We exist and create within a reality where institutions find dynamic ways to deploy our historical suffering toward rendering their bloody practices of accumulation consensual and legitimate. How do we reconcile the popularity of our black, brown, queer, immigrant, and disabled selves, with the ongoing vulnerabilities of the communities we are meant to embody.

Our questions include the following: As we are tempted with the possibilities offered by greater inclusion and support for our artistic practices, how can we do so critically, in ways that make more legible the anatomies of recognition and legitimacy that shape the pathways into dominant institutions? In what ways do ideologies that value multiculturism, and structures that aim for increased diversity, meet the current needs of capital? Why are these efforts particularly showing up in art museums and gallery spaces that have been hostile to non-white work? How are we to make sense of, especially private, institutions that have risen from the wealth generated by the dispossession of Black peoples and other communities of color who now host exhibits that are explicit articulations of movements against such violence? How does work that was once a threat to the state, now seemingly undergird dominant relations and discourses of power? Does our inclusion offer material/economic benefits to dominant institutions, or does this current moment rely more on their sacrificial/philanthropic generosity?

We want to acknowledge the complexities, and relational aspects of the politics of inclusion. While these forces find life in the violent ways that institutions take our histories and profit from them, they also live in our own minds, our desires, and our struggles to create spaces of care and intimacy for our loved ones and ourselves. As such, laboring through inclusion requires interrogating multiple sites. The larger scale ones of institutions, economic systems, and political history, and the more intimate ones of interiority, care, and sustenance. We think it is vital to examine the ways these various sites constitute each other.

With Latipa and Yusuf Omowale