Tag Archives: diversity

windows “into our best selves and our shared humanity”?

 

 

 

The Morgan, Connected
A Message From Our Di/rector
The Morgan Library & Museum
October 28, 2020

 

A Message From Our Director

I last wrote in late August, when we reopened our doors with a members’ preview and a free, sold out opening weekend. We have since unveiled our incredible fall season including Betye Saar: Call and Response, David Hockney: Drawing from Life, and Poetry and Patronage: The Laubespine-Villeroy Library Rediscovered.

During our temporary closure, we looked deep into our collections and programs, and reaffirmed the value of art and literature as windows into our best selves and our shared humanity. This gives us a new appreciation through which to consider and present our exhibitions. Recent events have also brought new awareness and urgency to longstanding issues, both within the Morgan Library & Museum and in the wider cultural community. Over the summer and early fall, in partnership with a cross-departmental group of staff, we developed the Morgan’s first Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion Action Plan. [italics added]

We are united in our belief that significant transformation is needed to change the ways that museums and archives benefit from and reinforce harmful societal norms, including racism and white supremacy. Our plan focuses on the critical work of the next six months, which will inform long-term initiatives and strategies in order to make the Morgan a more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive institution for visitors, employees, and volunteers alike. [italics added] I encourage you to learn more about these efforts by exploring the plan.

Thank you all for your continued encouragement, enthusiasm, and engagement with our exhibitions and programs, both onsite and online.

With best wishes,

 

Colin B. Bailey
Director

 

 

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This message to museum subscribers and museum goers is, I am sorry to say, laughable. I am sure I will be accused of insensitivity as a manifestation of attitudes associated with benighted white privilege for saying this.

I have been a patron of The Morgan Library (don’t be confused by the name, it’s really a museum) over the years, for exhibits (most recently on Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Walt Whitman) and some outstanding concerts. I like the museum cafeteria and museum shop. I have always found the staff welcoming. Many of the staff members at the front desk seemed to be young New Yorkers, enthusiastic and friendly. It made the visits more pleasurable.

The museum itself (the physical interior) is very nice and not cavernous like the Met, which (the latter) I often find overwhelming.

 

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The museum’s exhibits seem mostly to be from their permanent collection — or the permanent collection plus borrowed items. Anyway, the museum’s strengths seem to be medieval art (mostly illuminated manuscripts) and J. P. Morgan’s collections of rare books and letters and manuscripts of famous writers. Need I say that, unlike a lot of private collections, the Morgan’s is so rich and deep and broad in scope that there is no sense of the visitor feeling or sensing limitations. (I had a different feeling the few times that I visited The Frick Collection on Fifth Avenue. When you have seen it once or twice, you have seen it all. Some great paintings, but it’s not the Met. Whereas, at the Morgan, they are always coming upon with some new, often interesting exhibition. I forgot to mention that J. P. Morgan also collected music manuscripts — scores by the likes of Schubert and Mozart.)

 

 

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To return to the Director, Colin Bailey’s, message. This is a faux mea culpa and unnecessary pledge of reform — of mending one’s ways — which is unneeded and was written as a public relations gambit. The letter says nothing and addresses no real issues. By real issues, I mean — not that there are not festering issues and glaring injustices (hazily alluded to by Bailey) occurring at this very moment here — in our cities, notably — they are in the headlines staring us in the face. But what does this have to do with the Morgan Library? Nothing. And what does what the Director of the Library thinks mean? Nothing. His opinion does not matter. It might if he were dealing directly with issues of racial injustice. It might to him as a private citizen. Introspection is a good thing.

During our temporary closure, we looked deep into our collections and programs, and reaffirmed the value of art and literature as windows into our best selves and our shared humanity.

This is the kind of writing my writing instructors said to avoid. Art and literature can be enlightening — this is a truism. Do we need to be told that? And can deepen our understating of life and humanity, which should make us “better” people, or whatever the cliché is? I know that already. One would hope so.

Recent events have also brought new awareness and urgency to longstanding issues, both within the Morgan Library & Museum and in the wider cultural community.

Really? What “longstanding issues”? The Director is being coy and the opposite of forthcoming here, no doubt deliberately. Without a modicum of knowledge about what issues the Director is talking about, this is useless. I was never aware of anything that could be called discriminatory or racist about the museum or its exhibitions. Undoubtedly, there was probably not much “racial balance” in the content of the exhibitions. I would guess that this is due to the nature of the Morgan’s collection and focus in terms of the works and items in the exhibits.

We are united in our belief that significant transformation is needed to change the ways that museums and archives benefit from and reinforce harmful societal norms, including racism and white supremacy. Our plan focuses on the critical work of the next six months, which will inform long-term initiatives and strategies in order to make the Morgan a more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive institution for visitors, employees, and volunteers alike.

“[T]o change the ways that museums and archives benefit from and reinforce harmful societal norms, including racism and white supremacy.” Whew! This is boiler plate diversityspeak, meant as propaganda, and it is sheer nonsense. None of this has been in the least bit observable by me as a visitor to the Morgan. I vaguely recall that there were employees of different races, and they seemed on the surface to like their jobs. But I am talking about the museum as a whole, its policies, “mindset” — whatever can be inferred by a person not familiar with its inner workings, but familiar enough with the museum that evidences of racism and white supremacy would be noticeable, should they exist, which of course they don’t. The Director is writing this apologia, not because it is called for, but because he thinks it is required of him to do so, or will make the museum look good.

White supremacy? This code word is being used so loosely nowadays that is has no meaning in most cases. The museum is staffed and managed by white supremacists? Of course not. If it really were, there would indeed be a need for such breast-beating, and for reform. I like the museum as it is. Not because I am a white supremacist. Because I like to visit and enjoy the treasures on view there.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   October 2020

the Asian quota

 

 

In my blog on affirmative action (June 26, 2016)

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/06/25/affirmative-action/

I observed that there exists an Asian quota in college admissions (affecting Asian-American students, that is), similar to a Jewish quota in college admissions that once existed.

It is an insidious and unfair that college admission officers won’t acknowledge or admit to — they deny the very existence of such policies or practices. It’s something akin, if I may paraphrase from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, to saying: “all applicants are equal, but some applicants are more equal than others.”

Listed below are some recent articles in the subject, in order of publication, most recent first.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

  June 2016 (updated January 2017)

 

 

 

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addendum:

 

 

Roger W. Smith, email to a friend, January 30, 2017:

 

 

I noticed an article in today’s Times:

“White Students’ Unfair Advantage in Admissions,” by Andrew Lam, The New York Times, January 30, 2017

which I feel is excellent and makes sound, substantiated points.

I am sharing it with you because a few months ago, we were discussing Asian American quotas in college admissions. At the time, you said that you were not aware that it was a problem or that this type of discrimination existed.

At that time, I said to you I was against affirmative action, which I feel is reverse discrimination. We kind of agreed to disagree.

For a long time, I debated with myself about affirmative action and wasn’t sure what I thought. I believe I was initially for it.

 

Roger

 

 

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articles re the Asian-American quota:

 

 

Are elite colleges biased against Asian Americans?

CBS News

May 25, 2016

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-elite-colleges-discriminating-against-asian-americans/

 

 

Why are so many Asian Americans missing out on Ivy League schools?

The Guardian

May 24, 2015

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/24/why-are-so-many-missing-out-on-ivy-league-schools

 

 

Asian Groups Target Ivy League For Racial Discrimination

The Daily Caller

May 22, 2016

http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/22/asian-groups-target-ivy-league-for-racial-discrimination/#ixzz4Cxr4aRVt

 

 

Fewer Asians Need Apply

City Journal

Winter 2016

http://www.city-journal.org/html/fewer-asians-need-apply-14180.html

 

 

The model minority is losing patience

The Economist

October 3, 2015

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21669595-asian-americans-are-united-states-most-successful-minority-they-are-complaining-ever

 

 

Former Ivy League admissions dean reveals why highly qualified Asian-American students often get rejected

Business Insider (businessinsider.com)

June 10, 2015

http://www.businessinsider.com/sara-harberson-explains-why-asian-american-students-get-rejected-2015-6

 

 

To get into elite colleges, some advised to ‘appear less Asian’

Boston Globe

June 1, 2015

https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2015/06/01/college-counselors-advise-some-asian-students-appear-less-asian/Ew7g4JiQMiqYNQlIwqEIuO/story.html

 

 

Asian Americans Deserve Better in Ivy League Admissions

The Huffington Post

May 28, 2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bev-taylor/asian-americans-deserve-b_b_7453198.html

 

 

Harvard’s odd quota on Asian-Americans

Chicago Tribune

May 23, 2015

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-asians-enrollment-harvard-colleges-perspec-0524-20150522-column.html

 

 

Harvard discriminates against Asians as it once did to Jews

New York Post

May 19, 2015

http://nypost.com/2015/05/19/harvard-discriminates-against-asians-as-it-once-did-to-jews/

 

 

Asian American groups file racial quotas complaint against Harvard University

The Guardian

May 16, 2015

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/may/16/asian-american-groups-file-racial-quotas-complaint-against-harvard-university

 

 

For Asian Americans, a changing landscape on college admissions

Los Angeles Times

February 21, 2015

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-adv-asian-race-tutoring-20150222-story.html

 

 

How to Beat the Asian Quota at Elite U.S. Colleges

Synergy Educational

September 25, 2014

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140925141410-326401920-how-to-beat-the-asian-quota-at-elite-u-s-colleges

 

 

Statistics Indicate an Ivy League Asian Quota

op ed

New York Times

December 3, 2013

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/19/fears-of-an-asian-quota-in-the-ivy-league/statistics-indicate-an-ivy-league-asian-quota?emc=eta1

 

 

Is the Ivy League Fair to Asian Americans?

The Atlantic

December 21, 2012

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/12/is-the-ivy-league-fair-to-asian-americans/266538/

 

 

 

Asians: Too Smart for Their Own Good?

op ed

New York Times

December 19, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/opinion/asians-too-smart-for-their-own-good.html

 

 

The Myth of American Meritocracy

The American Conservative

November 28, 2012

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

 

 

 

“White Students’ Unfair Advantage in Admissions” (op ed)

The New York Times

January 30, 2017