Black life is not cherished or valued on planet Earth, so it makes sense that our deceased ancestors wouldn’t be respected either. Time and time again, we have seen white people appropriate black despair for profit. Sarah Baartman is a perfect example of black suffering; being deceived out of her home, forced to perform in European freak shows because of her voluptuous body, forced into drugs, alcohol and prostitution until she died at the age of 26 in 1815. Up until 1974, Baartman’s brain, skeleton and sexual organs remained on display in a museum in Paris for the world to see.
Emmett Till, the young black boy that was lynched, shot, mutilated and thrown in a river because a white woman (Carolyn Bryant) lied on him, has been the subject of white exploitation and controversy recently. Artist Dana Schutz’s Painting of Emmett Till (titled, “Open Casket”) at Whitney Biennial has put her under national scrutiny and black outrage. The paining depicts Till in his casket, with his disfigured and brutalized face being the center of the piece. In 1955, Mamie Till (Emmett Tills Mother) wanted the world to see what white people had done to her child. Tills mother wanted an open casket funeral for her son to be put on display and expose racism and white supremacy. Mamie Till would probably be deeply offended if she knew that some random white woman was using fake concern for son’s murder as a guise to sell “art.”
At the Whitney, a protest against Dana Schutz' painting of Emmett Till: "She has nothing to say to the Black community about Black trauma." pic.twitter.com/C6x1JcbwRa
— Scott W. H. Young (@hei_scott) March 17, 2017
According to the Huffington Post, “The work has been the subject of controversy since the Biennial’s opening on March 17. That day, a group of protesters gathered around the painting, blocking it from public view. Artist Parker Bright stood before the work in a shirt with the words “black death spectacle” scrawled across. Many have taken to social media to express their frustration with the painting, too.”
Whether Schutz’s intentions were to present white shame, bring attention to racism, or to simply make some cash is unclear. It doesn’t matter what her angle is, she is a despicable person and her painting should be destroyed. There is a point in which “artistic expression” simply becomes distasteful and offensive. Can you imagine the outrage that would come if a black person painted dead white 911 victims? What would the reaction be if a black artist painted white American solders being beheaded overseas? The reason why Dana Schutz and even Emmett Tills killers get away with crazy things that they do is white privilege. White privilege is an byproduct of white supremacy that allows whites to do whatever they want with little to no consequences. And if a person of color has a problem with a white person’s actions, that white person automatically becomes the victim. To anyone that doesn’t see a problem with the painting, imagine your dead son or daughter, mother, father being lynched and portrayed in a so called “art” piece.