I’ve contemplated writing this blog because it’s kind of risk(a). I risk the chance of going back to that angry black girl I once was in 2016 when I didn't see my American dream coming to life. I risk the chance of this post turning into a long internet diary entry and ain’t nobody got time for that. But quite frankly, this post is long overdue. A Girl In A Museum World is the safe place I created to grow others and myself. I need this entry to express my frustration in the field I'm so passionately invested in. If this is your first time tuning in to my blog posts, click here to learn the mission behind this platform.
As I stated in my first blog, my museum journey is emotional. I love my career. I love working with historical objects every day; it’s literally my dream, but lately, I’ve felt slightly disconnected from the museum field due to the lack of diversity. Being the only black person in the room can be draining at times. Not being able to relate to the morning, lunch, or meeting topics of conversations due to cultural barriers is exhausting. To simply feel like you’re just a body occupying space and waiting for a moment to comment on something relatable is mentally depleting. I have analyzed that the topics of choice are seen as common knowledge, but in actuality, only a particular group of people can relate or thoroughly engage in those conversations. In the past I would take those moments as learning experiences or as a teaching moment for my culture, but I’m tired of the explanatory comma filled conversations. This post is not bashing those I have worked with; I’m also not aiming to portray their behavior as malicious, it’s simply the thoughts from the only Black person in the room....It’s lonely. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a robot. I’m doing my job, but I lack a connection.
I love History, and of course, I love Black History specifically, but I don’t come in contact with it enough compared to other sections of history. I need some balance, you know? It’s hard to build connections with particular historical objects due to the origins of their journey. Sometimes I feel like the party pooper, or the person that’s always bringing up the same words: Race, Diversity, Black, Inclusion...get my drift? I contemplated leaving the museum world a few times because it’s hard navigating a field that often makes you feel so alone with a lot of weight on your shoulders. The BIPOC museum community is growing, which is lovely, but I still encounter traditional theorist who believes proper museum professionals should not be persons of color. Those encounters are disheartening and triggering!
I’ve often wanted to walk away to join an environment where I would feel more comfortable and more accepted. But I can’t walk away, not yet at least. I’m an emerging museum professional. I just started my museum journey in 2015. I’m still “new” to this. When I can walk into a room of other museum professionals and I’m not the only person of color, then maybe I’ll revisit the thought of throwing in the towel. Until then, I’ll push through and revisit my handy dandy “don’t throw in the towel yet; there is still work to be done” toolbox.
In order to pave the way, one must be “someone who can stand in the fire and not be burned.”
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