"We Need More Critics of Color": How diverse writers enrich cultural conversations

Elizabeth Méndez Berry, Grantmakers in the Arts board member, and Chi-hui Yang make the case for the need for cultural critics of color and discuss the work of the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Ford Foundation's initiative, Critical Minded, amplifying the work of cultural critics of color, in a recent piece published in The New York Times.

Méndez Berry and Yang explain that culture is a battleground where some narratives win and others lose. "Whether we believe someone should be locked in a cage or not is shaped by the stories we absorb about one another, and whether they’re disrupted or not." They add:

At a time when inequality and white supremacy are soaring, collective opinion is born at monuments, museums, screens and stages — well before it’s confirmed at the ballot box. Yet those who have for decades been given the biggest platforms to interpret culture are white men. This means that the spaces in media where national mythologies are articulated, debated and affirmed are still largely segregated. The conversation about our collective imagination has the same blind spots as our political discourse.

The piece also argues that mainstream and independent outlets must pay critics a living wage and reject business models that don’t. "Outlets led by people of color", state Méndez Berry and Yang, "should get the venture capital and philanthropic support they have always deserved but rarely received."

Read the piece here.

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