Had an interesting conversation with a friend re:institutional racism. He works for a gallery that I accused of being racist, then I softened it by saying, "institutionally racist... or would he agfree unconsciously racist?"

He's not one to get mad usually, but he was pink with anger over this and said so. He said the person he spoke to does genuinely want black - or more representative - staff. I explained that I offered her a number of initatives which she refused, saying that from her point of view, it creates an unlevel playing field. That current staff didn't have that kind of 'special treatment'.

She wasn't keen on 'special measures' but she was happy to take my list of minority ethnic press/ community press and send the usual press release to them, asking me to send her my list. I wasn't too keen. To me it smacked of looking for easiest options, of not really doing anything, of conscious-salving measures.

T also thought that I was being churlish not to give her 'my list' and that sending out press releases to targetted press should be enough. I tried to explain that when an institution is 100% white, it takes a particular kind of non-white person to feel comfortable in that situation, and frankly, very few people want to be in such a minority position - where everything you do is so visible and therefore you feel constantly on trial. I expalined that I feel that way at some of the places where I work. Though we're good mates, I've never said this to him before. I have had that conversation with other people of minority ethnic backgrounds but rarely with people from dominant culture backgrounds....

Maybe it's not their fault that they don't understand the barriers. Maybe we don't tell them so they are genuinely unaware...?

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