Who Speaks Freely?: Art, Race, and Protest

Aruna D’Souza at The Paris Review:

The “urgent recommendation” by Black and her cosignatories that the offending artwork should be destroyed stemmed from a desire to prevent the image of black suffering and death from becoming another commodity; as such, it led to vigorous pushback. Those who rejected the protesters’ positions—people ranging from respected art critics, artists, and art historians, to those who had little interest in art per se but objected to complaints by “snowflake” social-justice warriors on principle—largely framed their counterarguments in terms of free speech, artistic freedom, and censorship. (If we measure the strength of an art-world controversy by how deeply it penetrated into public consciousness, I’d say Whoopi Goldberg telling the protesters they needed to “grow up” on The View ranks this one pretty high. Zadie Smith chalking the controversy up to the “cheap” binary of us vs. them politics in Harper’s Magazine and Coco Fusco writing off not only Hannah Black but the historical black arts movement in Hyperallergic were also telling markers.)

more here.