I was asked to participate in this project early this year.

Hesitant at first, I noticed that almost ALL of the women involved were white. Despite this, they were operating under a “womanist framework”.

Under the recommendation of a friend I signed on. I asked about compensation, as I understand that this project leads to future grant money and opportunities. The explanation for possible payment hinged on grant opportunities.

A few weeks go by and I check in to see how things are rolling along. After a few email exchanges, I’m added on to the project. I am asked for a bio, description, and photo for the project site. These are given over.

I check the site and I see that my name is listed incorrectly. My name is specifically listed under my artist name to tie my work together. I take my concern to the Project Manager, Meg, who tells me that she will change the flyer, but that the flyers have already gone to print.

This is not ok, and I state as such. Only then is Meg prompted to inquire with the printer if this can be changed. It’s not too late. I am then asked if I can help distribute flyers.

A few days later, I am sent an email for fundraising to distribute. It is a Cleveland based company we are told.

I click the link to the fundraising page, and my image is the first to appear.

In a project founded, funded, and mostly benefiting white women, my black body is being used (without permission) to raise funds. There was no request to distribute this image to a third party for fundraising specifically.

I make a request to have the image removed, and this request is not addressed for almost a day.

I receive an email telling me it will be removed. After 24 hours it remains on the site. A follow-up inquiry is sent, and I then immediately receive an email asking me to call Meg and NOT enlist help with the removal of my image from any volunteers.

Meg then explains that she gave the images to the fundraising site, and they were given permission to select the images and they are in control of the speed in which they were removed.

I am still waiting for my request to receive a response, to be addressed, and for these changes that make me uncomfortable to be resolved.

It’s a lesson for me. I am learning that I am responsible for representation of my body and identity, which is valuable to white people when it can be used to promote “diversity” without much effort.

#remark #remarkonyourspaces #markmaking


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