answers to questions…
How have you benefited from privilege?
as a cis male, white-presenting, masculine-presenting person, i have definitely benefited from privilege… in ways i am aware of… and in others, i am not. my parents, both immigrants, both musicians, worked three and four jobs throughout my childhood to provide for me and my brothers. their hard work provided me with a comfortable home and a decent education. i am tall, relatively good looking, and have been able to build a level of confidence around my art practice and my work that has definitely benefited me. i am married to a cis male with a good job. this has allowed me to be unemployed and stay on the job market for 20+ mos… (focused on finding another job in academia). it also allows me to have a strong studio practice and focus on non-paying projects.
What does privilege mean to you?
access. ease. having a voice. feeling safe.
not constantly being challenged or questioned about where you are from, who you are, how you look, who you love, what you believe in, etc. having doors open without much work. having a platform/audience and/or people who listen to what you have to say. not having to look over your shoulder to assure your own safety or the safety of those you love. being presumed kind, innocent, loving, non-threatening — and not having to fight for that recognition.
Have you ever felt unsafe in public?
yes, fairly regularly… in high school (catholic co-ed school in the early 90s) i was tortured because i was queer, though i was not out. i was bullied on a regular basis and was sexually assaulted on a few occasions. as a queer person in adulthood, when i have been with another masculine-presenting partner, holding hands, or being intimate, we have often been ridiculed and yelled at in the street — even in nyc.
What do you think systemic racism or systemic violence means?
violence that comes from the top down. violence that is so rooted in our systems of finance, education, government, religion, etc… that it permeates throughout and infiltrates decision-making — known and unconscious. violence that breeds violence and makes even the most unsuspecting or good-intentioned people violent too. violence, that when questioned, is met with even more violence to keep the hierarchical lineages in place. the status quo that relies on towing-the-line and making it in terms of hierarchical norms and set rules. any deviation from this way of working is swiftly dismantled and muted. our country was founded, and our wealth amassed, on the genocide of the indigenous people and the enslavement of the african people. colonial capitalism still relies on these atrocities. a country that was born from violence — and controlled through violence — only knows violence and will remain inherently violent.
Do you have friends who do not look like, think like, live like you?
yes, i have friends across ethnic, racial, socioeconomic strata and in a variety of age groups. but i also get comfortable in my bubble (by bubble i mean home with my husband and to the studio … experiencing a small slice of nyc and conversing mostly digitally with folks).