This past week I was able to attend this year’s annual American Alliance of Museums conference in St. Louis, Missouri. It was my second year attending the conference and as I did last year, I planned for full days of sessions on diversity and inclusion within the museum field. I was excited, ready to have these critical dialogues with other like-minded individuals and focused.
Whereas last year’s AAM conference was to get a feel for the environment and test the waters as a newbie, this year I was ready to hit the ground running. I brought my A game and was not disappointed. Here, I share a few highlights and things I’ve learned:
- Museums in this current political climate have a responsibility in playing an active role in affirming diversity and fostering inclusion in communities across the U.S. This was reiterated at several sessions and during featured speaker’s presentations. Museums are memory holders, cultural diplomacy agents, sanctuaries, and a hub for civic engagement and as such, must take on the role of reacting to community needs.
- Allyship is a lived practice. This session with Alyssa Greenberg, Wendy Ng, Keonna Hendrick, and Syrus Ware attracted a full house with their passionate presentation that inspired us all.
- Diversity and inclusion are practices, NOT end points.
- Pause and listen! Create opportunities and do not monopolize these spaces.
- Seek out answers. Do not expect others to teach you (PoC are not here to be your guiding star – do your own homework).
- Allyship is a conscious and constant practice. Allies don’t retreat into their privilege.
- Build inclusion into budgets.
- When creating a diversity plan, be sure that you do NOTHING about us, without us.
- If museums want to be relevant, they have to structurally change.
- You shouldn’t have to make a business case for diversity (as a country, we are getting more and more diverse whether you like it or not).
- “We’re not doing this to look like a United Colors of Bentton ad, we’re doing this to undo the patterns of colonialism.” -Alyssa Greenberg
- We need to elevate ALL stories. Disabilities are NOT the barrier to access, societies that don’t accommodate disabilities are.
- ALL OF BRYAN STEVENSON’S SPEECH (will be available on AAM).
- The Latino Network Luncheon is a great way to meet and network with fantastic professionals in the field.
- #AAM2017SlaveAuction was an intense tweet dialogue that addressed a poor expo display decision a vendor made that resulted in necessary discussion about what happens when you don’t center PoC (and assume a white audience). Much more on this under the hashtag – do follow; v important points made.
I met wonderful people and I truly learned a lot from fellow AAMers who have been in the field working on museum diversity and inclusion for years. I made some good connections and hope that these opportunities will serve as insight to better A Latina in Museums and help connect us all to ways in which we can create a museum field that is inclusive of all our stories.