The Black radical tradition of hope
- Jamara Wakefield discusses museums and why they should shuck their colonial legacies:
I am constantly asking myself these questions: Why does the decolonization of museums matter? Why do I continue to visit these colonized spaces knowing they rest comfortably in their resistance to change? I see museums as liminal spaces. The word “liminal” comes from the Latin root, limen, which means “threshold.” The liminal space is the “crossing over” where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else. When museums operate in their full liminal potential they are able to tell non-binary histories. For US museums this means acknowledging colonialism, imperialism and white supremacy while also striving towards a decolonialized future.
While I’m not certain all institutions have this potential, I believe art and cultural institutions do because many of their mission statements already lean in this direction—but too often they do not have the internal institutional courage to move from polite social justice talk to radical decolonized action. This is why it is critical that the public continue to apply pressure to power, so institutional leaders do not become complacent or complicit. I stand in the Black radical tradition of hope. I believe it is possible for art institutions to serve as a zone between the “what was” and “ the next.”
What was, is a dark history of colonization and human exploitation.
The next, is a decolonized world. It is coming whether the keepers of colonization want it or not.