Mayor Rawlings Gave Female Artists a Panel of Their Own, Forgot Latinas

RawlingsBeingSwornIn.jpg
Oh, Mikey you're so pretty, can't you understand?

Dear Mayor Rawlings,
The first thing I'd like to say in this very public letter is a big thank you for Dallas Arts Week. From what I can gather, it's your way to bring awareness to the arts, which is, in a sense, my job as well. Samesies! Even if you don't do much other than launch a few marketing initiatives, create a hashtag (#DallasArtsWeek, hashtag predictable) and send out a press release marking April 5-13 as the most artastic week in all of 2014; even if artists do the work for you; and even if they're the same artists who are creating art year round -- well, I won't hold that against you. I'd like to think of it as a work of political conceptual art. It's about the ideas.

Your big role in the week is the now annual "Creative Conversation with Mayor Rawlings." You or someone on your staff hand-selects a group of local artists to sit on the stage at City Performance Hall and discuss ways to make the arts in Dallas better. I see this as proof that you're willing to listen and open to discussion. But when it comes to inviting artists to sit on this panel, you just can't seem to get your guest list in order.

Last year there were no women on the "Creative Conversation" panel and all of us creative ladies bitched and moaned (because that's how women speak out). Like any world-weary married man you listened to us bossy females and gave us a panel of our own. Virginia Woolf might be proud. I'd call it overcompensation. It's not exactly the same thing as bringing women to a male-dominated table, but I'll let that one slide. I've got a stick of celery to chew with you. (No bones ...I'm on a diet, because, you know, I'm a woman.)

Other than the fact that there are no men on this panel, you almost nailed the diversity quotient. Let's see, it's a six person panel. So you invited four white women, one black woman, and an Iranian woman. I have to admit that at first glance I was so happy to see you giving a voice to a group of women I respect and admire that I didn't notice your blunder either. Then again, we have the same blinders: We're both white and bad at math (I'm just assuming this about you).

Lucky for me, earlier this year I interviewed David Lozano when we named him one of the Dallas Observer masterminds. He received the same invitation to your creative conversation and immediately noticed the lack of a Latina. He emailed everyone in his database with the reminder that 42 percent of Dallas residents are Hispanic. (There's that damn math again) I engaged him further on the topic, suggesting we send you a list of potential panel guests, because maybe you simply thought Latinas weren't interested in art. His response?

"What frustrates me even further is that even if the mayor does place a Latina on the panel, it reveals that Latinos are not part of his real vision. And we are not included on any real planning for the arts in Dallas. ... It could be a positive step in including our community or it could be just a cosmetic change and last minute band aid."

Over the weekend after your office received a few complaints, you added Giovanni Valderas as a "special guest" for the evening. That'll have to do, I guess. It's not quite the same thing as adding a Latina artist to the panel and may do more to signify a sort of otherness than solidarity, but at least we know you're listening. Your assistant blamed herself for the oversight, but that seems unfair. Surely the two of you didn't simply forget. After all, the director of the Office of Cultural Affairs is Maria Muñoz-Blanco. A Latina. So what's the deal?

Please respond posthaste. In the meantime, I'll just be over here roaring.

Braless and liberated,
Lauren

P.S. It has not gone unnoticed that your all-male panel last year was "A Creative Conversation" and the all-female panel has the additional title "Re-imagining the Arts." Because, clearly, men get shit done and women are just dreamers. I'm not calling you sexist, because I'm sure you're not as concerned about the connotations of certain words (or salary levels) as I am.

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16 comments
busterspiller
busterspiller

Lauren, I am officially "in love with you" for writing this piece! I have never laughed SO HARD, except for yesterday when I read David Lozano's piece in the HowlRound. With my 'rant' from last year over the exclusion of women in Examiner.com, combined with yours and David's, we are officially "The Three Musketeers" of Dallas seriously needs to get it's *ish together as it relates to a bold vision and tangible reality of what the cultural and artistic landscape of Dallas SHOULD BE, with a table large enough for all of our voices. MUAH to you!

AtoZ
AtoZ

I'm a liberal.  But a generation or so from now, the 1990s-holdover notion that any group of humans MUST demographically reflect the population at large, or else it is suspect, racist, or downright evil, will be guffawed at as the wholly arbitrary, stagnating, false, and thoroughly moronic concept it is.  On the other hand, use of the concept has become a mighty handy shibboleth for our times.  Anyone who thinks it makes sense is immediately identifiable as a tiny-minded, illogical loon.  There are real problems to be identified, written about, and rectified.  Quit using this stupid paint-by-numbers concept to find problems that are not real.  It's LAZY.

Rusticle
Rusticle

Out of curiosity, I looked through the people you've interviewed so far this year to see how well you've done with diversity in your own work. 11 individuals were white and 3 were of non-Caucasian descent, including Japanese, Mexican, and Thai individuals. Then again, Social Justice Warriors such as yourself are probably too far busy pointing out imagined slights by other people to think about whether or not they're being hypocritical.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Last I checked we are supposed to be color blind.


Guesty
Guesty

"P.S. It has not gone unnoticed that your all-male panel last year was 'A Creative Conversation' and the all-female panel has the additional title 'Re-imagining the Arts.' Because, clearly, men get shit done and women are just dreamers." 


What?  I'm lost.  Since when does having a "conversation" suggest anything about "get[ing] shit done"?  In my experience, conversations are usually the opposite of getting things done.  If anything, both "A Creative Conversation" and "Re-imagining the Arts" are equally pointless and ineffective titles for empty, self-important navel gazing.  

TexMarine
TexMarine

More divisions; this is what the left is best at. Newsflash Lauren, "bossy" has been outlawed by the left in preparation for Hillary 2016.

lauren.smart
lauren.smart

@Rusticle  I hear your point and it's definitely something I try to be mindful of. However, what I'm pointing out in this post is that this panel was clearly made in response to the lack of diversity on last year's panel, but even as such it wasn't fully thought through. 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@TexMarine

It's a joint effort - Right wingers create divisiveness, and Lefties point it out.  The weird thing here is that you've not expressed any problem with creating divisions - you're just outraged because they were pointed out.

That what makes Republicans so much like cockroaches - they love the dark, and run like scared cockroaches when a light shines on them.

Rusticle
Rusticle

@lauren.smart No Lauren, the point I was making is that it's not something to be mindful of. Obviously you did not consciously choose to not include an African-American in your interviews; that just ended up being the way it shook out. 

Be honest: do you think Mike Rawlings or his staff actively steered clear of Latina women on their council? Or do you think that it just kind of shook out that way, similar to your interviews? By writing this article and getting defensive about what I will once again call an imagined slight, you put Mike Rawlings in the situation of being forced to include a Latina on the council next year purely for the sake of having a Latina. 

AtoZ
AtoZ

@bvckvs  Ridiculous reply.  You try picking six individuals from 1.2 million, and see how many crackpots line up saying they weren't represented.  It is mathematically IMPOSSIBLE to dempgraphically please everyone, even if you had 100 slots, let alone SIX.  Did you notice there were no dwarves on the panel?  No one over 7 feet tall?  Not statistically relevant enough for ya? (Well, sez you!)  Does the panel appropriately represent left-handers?  Children?  The elderly?  Vegetarians?  Blue versus brown versus other colors of eyes?  What are the favorite colors of the people on the panel?  What about birth order--we can't have those Type-A oldest siblings taking things over, can we?  And wait a second . . . most humans live outside Dallas.  Yet they have NO voice on the panel!!!  Outrageous!

TexMarine
TexMarine

@bvckvs so I'm a republican now?

You're having (another) senior moment by (typically) alleging outrage where there is none. If you had your faculties you'd realize that the great DO Latina Blogger "Lauren Smart" is outraged by the lack of a latina on this panel. Again, exposing that all the left see's is race, class and gender; she's stoking the fire and you are cheering her on. 

GatoCat
GatoCat

@Rusticle @lauren.smart  Things white men organize quite often "shake out" to include only white men. It isn't actively planned, it's just a habitual mindset. The need for racial and gender diversity doesn't occur to us. That doesn't mean it isn't a real slight.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@AtoZ

I have no idea what that rant was about.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@TexMarine @bvckvs

Nobody called you a Republican - so you can quit being outraged about that, too.

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