Category Archives: racism

Exhibition: The Museum of Capitalism

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Laurie says:

I went with Debbie to the Museum of Capitalism, a remarkable exhibition installed in what was a huge empty retail space in Jack London Square in Oakland. The exhibition is a art/historical view of capitalism as if it no longer existed. Unfortunately I got there rather late, as it only runs til August 20th.

From the curators’ statement by FICTILUIS:

Some may argue that the events the Museum highlights are too recent in memory to be displayed in such a way, that the topic is too sensitive for those who still feel it’s effects. Others argue that it’s too late, that reflection upon the logics and limits of capitalism should have happened long ago, and might have prevented many of the tragedies that have played out in recent decades. We maintain that there is no better time then now to honor those impacted by capitalism and those who will feel its impacts far into the future.

The exhibition includes over 50 artists and is very varied in subjects, attitudes and media. I’m going to write about the work that struck me the most. It’s by Beverly Henry.
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In the installation Undoing Time/PLEDGE, a video portrait co-authored with former prisoner Beverly Henry (who worked in a California prison flag factory while incarcerated), is installed with two American flags produced in the flag factory where she worked during the the years she was incarcerated at the Central California Women’s facility.
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The text of an op-ed piece Beverly wrote on the 254th anniversary of Betsy Ross’ birth is embroidered into the stripes of the flags. In the video Beverly performs a symbolic act – undoing the stitches of one of the flags made in the prison factory – while she describes her own search for equality and democracy as a socio-economically marginalized person. In the op-ed text, and through her recorded statements, Beverly’s reflections, on the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that the US flag purportedly represents, challenge us to examine the structural inequalities at the root of the extraordinary expansion of penal confinement in the United States.
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This is an image from the video of her taking the flag apart as an act of reclamation.

If you are interested in learning more about the exhibition, there is a good article here by Kriston Capps

And if you’re in the Bay Area and you can see it before the 20th, go!

Mission Murals 1: Murdered by Police

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Laurie says:

I’ve lived in the Mission District of San Francisco for a long time. The Mission is famous for its murals, and I see them every day as I walk around my neighborhood. One mural I see regularly memorializes people of color murdered by the police, half of them in San Francisco. Another honors a young DJ who died. I know there are more murals on this subject in my neighborhood, so I’m walking and looking.
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However, when I do a Google image search for “Mission murals” I get a huge number of results, but none of them show the murals memorializing people of color who were murdered by the police, including this one. If you know whose death you’re looking for, or if you look for murals about murders by police in San Francisco, then some do show up.

This mural honors Alejandro (“Alex”) Nieto, Michael Brown, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and Eric Garner. All four men were murdered by police officers, none of whom were convicted of any crime. Not that this is surprising: almost no police are convicted when they murder black and brown people.

Nieto died on March 21, 2014, in a barrage of bullets fired at him by four San Francisco policemen.

Amilcar Perez Lopez , a 20-year-old immigrant from Guatemala, was shot and killed on February 26, 2015 by two plainclothes San Francisco police officers.

Eric Garner, whose death on July 27, 2014 got more national attention than the two from San Francisco was unarmed and was killed by a police-prohibited chokehold; he was accused of the trivial crime of selling illegal cigarettes in New York City.

Michael Brown, as many of us know, was unarmed when shot and killed by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014, after which his body was left on the street for well over four hours. His murder sparked weeks of demonstrations and unrest in Ferguson, and was a major impetus for the beginning of Black Lives Matter.

Mario Woods, who is not in this particular mural, has a story well known to San Francisco residents, He was killed after as many as 15 rounds were fired into him by five San Francisco Police Department officers.

I’ve been going to demonstrations for the murder by police of young people of color for much of my life. The first death I remember is Emmett Till. He was lynched in Mississippi in August 1955 at the age of 14. I was 13.

The murders and the protests are both American traditions. And the killings continue with no accountability and no consequences to the police department. It makes me want to weep with rage.