People Aren't Thrilled About the Brooklyn Museum's Decision to Hire a White Person as Curator of African Art
"People from the African Diaspora are frustrated with white people being gatekeepers of our narrative."
The Brooklyn Museum has come under fire after news spread earlier this week of its appointment of a white curator for African art.
Though it was initially believed that the museum had hired two white curators for their African art department, in a press release from earlier this month, the museum announced that it had brought on Kristen Windmuller-Luna as the Sills Family Consulting Curator of African art department and Drew Sawyer as the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator of Photography—not of "African" photography as many had thought. The news spread after it was reported by the BK Reader on Monday.
As the new curator of the museum's African art department, Windmuller-Luna will "assess and rethink the Brooklyn Museum's extensive holdings of African art, which is comprised of more than 6,000 objects, and organize an innovative, freshly conceived temporary installation," stated the press release.
The news of her appointment did not sit well with many online who expressed frustration with the art world's history of racism and elitism, and who believe the position should have gone to someone of African descent. To many, the museum's decision highlights the discriminatory hiring processes which take opportunities away from qualified black people and—in cases like these—allow white people to maintain control over black narratives and culture.
I’m assuming there wasn’t a black man or woman that would of been more qualified to get these positions? 🙄 Smh, the… https://t.co/hahEGYqISB— Claudia Reyes-Hilton (@Claudia Reyes-Hilton) 1522194148.0
People from the African Diaspora are frustrated w/ white people being gatekeepers of our narrative. We have yet to… https://t.co/W3ZzmJCDLY— Kimberly Selden (@Kimberly Selden) 1522210768.0
@RaquelWillis_ white people with yale and princeton degrees sound like the exact people who should be overseeing af… https://t.co/nqfjemDXfx— Miranda Feneberger (@Miranda Feneberger) 1522195275.0
This is what gentrification looks like. 🤨https://t.co/vJGRggqiS4— Occupy Wall Street (@Occupy Wall Street) 1522211899.0
Nothing more adequately describes #Brooklyn at this point. https://t.co/O5wrl5SNm7— Halal Thirst Trap (@Halal Thirst Trap) 1522191101.0
Something ain’t white *ahem* I mean right. https://t.co/yYQrqVQddh— Asha Noor (@Asha Noor) 1522198358.0
While some pointed out that Windmuller-Luna's educational background and resume make her uniquely qualified for the job—she holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in art and archaeology from Princeton University and her B.A. in the history of art from Yale University—others find it hard to believe that there was not one equally qualified black candidate.
@StillMikeYeah @amyharvard_ You’re right. I’m positive there’s no one of African descent ANYWHERE that is qualified. https://t.co/9TYyHo2NuT— Blerd Writer (@Blerd Writer) 1522210806.0
Are you serious, @brooklynmuseum? Ms Windmuller-Luna, I realize this is what you studied for, but really: no. Brook… https://t.co/Qu4kamci1S— Bert Archer (@Bert Archer) 1522255356.0
We must challenge the idea of what it means to be a "qualified" curator because a lot of THIS is mixed up in coloni… https://t.co/x6devT1nnD— Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham (@Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham) 1522203031.0
Of course, folks are also making references to Black Panther—clearly the Brooklyn museum missed the main takeaway from Killmonger's museum scene, and perhaps the entire film in general.
I'm guessing @brooklynmuseum didn't go see The Black Panther because they just hired two new white curators for Bro… https://t.co/mtDyv5oUqQ— Jamilla Okubo (@Jamilla Okubo) 1522194918.0
Need to see photos of the entire curating team of African Art at the Brooklyn Museum. I was very shocked at the pre… https://t.co/rxqPXbPI0H— Ayanna P. (@Ayanna P.) 1522193203.0
I feel like I’m in a scene from #BlackPanther. This is new Brooklyn. https://t.co/2K2xflrciv— Erica Buddington (@Erica Buddington) 1522183686.0
The strength of @brooklynmuseum will be stripppttt aweh. https://t.co/2K2xflrciv— Erica Buddington (@Erica Buddington) 1522207955.0
@LateefMartin @brooklynmuseum I saw that and I immediately thought of the scene in Black Panther where Killmonger r… https://t.co/27E0IlPxcq— Tigersen of the ̶ ̶T̶ι̶т̶α̶ɴ̶ι̶υ̶м̶ Tribe (@Tigersen of the ̶ ̶T̶ι̶т̶α̶ɴ̶ι̶υ̶м̶ Tribe) 1522247005.0
BROOKLYN, IS THIS YOUR MUSEUM? https://t.co/1CRfMlMX2Q— t. sterling of wakanda 🙅🏾♂️ (@t. sterling of wakanda 🙅🏾♂️) 1522193864.0
OkayAfrica has reached out to the Brooklyn Museum for comment.