When you’re Black, you’re never really lonely because there will always be a white person all up in your business. - krissychula
The Museum of Modern Art wrongfully removed a Black artist from an exhibit created for Black people, instead of the white woman who tried to disrupt the peace, according to The Daily Beast. After the artist took to Twitter to share her experience, the museum issued an apology.
London artist Heather Agyepong was visiting the MoMa’s “Black Power Naps” exhibit Saturday curated by Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa. Suddenly, this area, intended to provide a resting place for Black people, was disrupted by a white woman who walked inside and began laughing. Agyepong said in her Twitter video she went up to the woman to explain the exhibit to her (not only because she trespassed into a Black space but was also disrespectfully noisy) and the woman went full-on Karen mode and began shouting.
Agyepong said she and another Black woman were accused of being “aggressive” during the woman’s tantrum and eventually, Agyepong was kicked out. No, not the woman bringing the ruckus. This Karen ironically proved two things true about the Black experience: 1. You can never be Black in peace and 2. A Black woman standing up for herself and her space is stereotyped as a threat.
After Agyepong’s video blew up, a spokesperson from the MoMa issued a statement apologizing for the incident.
Read more from The Art Newspaper:
In a statement to The Art Newspaper, a MoMA spokesperson said the museum plans to add more staff to the installation and will “explore” further procedural changes, including additional signage and staff training, in consultation with the organisers of Black Power Naps.
“We reached out to Heather Agyepong and apologised,” the spokesperson says. “We are committed to presenting programs that move race equity values forward and we acknowledge there will be challenges to work through and learn from as we support and invite artists and audiences to engage on these important issues.”
Agyepong told The Art Newspaper she received an offer for a free pass and lunch at the museum but… that does nothing to address the issue at hand. It’s clear that implicit biases played a role in this incident causing the removal of a Black person from a designated Black space instead of the white person who disrupted that space. Even one of the installation’s curators said she was told to be quiet by another white person inside the space.
A meal ticket isn’t going to fix that.
Agyepong and the artists of the installation are pushing the MoMa to commit to anti-racist policies so that incidents like this don’t happen again, regardless of the exhibit.