How can art examine and disrupt a phenomenon as pervasive as whiteness? For white artists doing this work, how might we imagine ancestral and cultural grounding to honestly reckon with the violence and trauma of white supremacy while creating space for others to safely experience this reckoning? So much of white supremacy is based on a crushing desire for a heroic historical narrative that allows individuals and groups to look back with pride at an idealized white ancestry. If narrow, dishonest narratives are a function of white supremacy, what opens a space for disrupting and revising these narratives?
Few white artists directly address the legacies and genealogy of whiteness, which speaks to how early we still are in this conversation. I want to treat these white supremacist cultural narratives as a kind of unreliable family history. That’s what culture is: family stories, justifications, and coping mechanisms passed down long enough to seem inevitable or at least normal. To unsettle (see J.D. Pluecker’s The Unsettlements) these violent narratives would be to undergo a kind of rehabilitation from violence or a de-colonizing psychotherapy.