Chinese Cultural Centre Cancelled Racism Talk Due to White Frag

  • It was supposed to be a chance to discuss race and identity in the UK, at a critical moment in the fight for racial equality following months of Black Lives Matter protests and growing concern over anti-Asian hate.To get more art in the news 2021, you can visit shine news official website.

    A film exploring what it means to be British by artist Eelyn Lee was to be screened at the Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, northwest England, which describes itself as the leading organisation for promoting Chinese contemporary culture and art in the UK.
    Lee, an artist of Chinese and English heritage, was part of the Artists Working Group (AWG), a group set up as part of the gallery’s “revisioning” process supposed to address concerns about structural racism and a lack of Inclusion at the gallery. In March 2020 artist JJ Chan had written an open letter to the gallery, saying that Asian voices were underrepresented in an organisation predominantly run by white people.

    In January 2021, Lee suggested that recent incidents of alleged institutional racism at the CFCCA should be included in the discussion following the screening, which was initially scheduled for November 2020 but delayed. At first the gallery said, in an email seen by VICE World News, that it was “open to conversations about CFCCA and the institution's past, present and future, and to engaging with the revisioning process through the programme, and we recognise the relevance in the context of this panel discussion,” but said that this would need to be urgently discussed. “There are some concerns about this given the relatively short turnaround, and we'd like to explore what options we have for realising the event as effectively as possible,” the email said.

    By mutual consent, the discussion was delayed until February to allow the revisioning process to get started. However the gallery then decided to delay the panel until April 2021. Then, at the end of March 2021, the CFCCA emailed Lee to cancel the panel discussion entirely.
    When Lee pressed for more information about the panel’s cancellation, CFCCA Director Zoe Dunbar told Lee in an email seen by VICE World News, that the reason for this closure was due to the organisation’s issues with their own “white fragility”.

    Dunbar said that the centre was doing “some depth work with the staff team to consider what it means to be white within the organisation and how we might interrupt our white fragility to build capacity to sustain cross-racial honesty and move to an actively anti-racist position.

    Some of the team are finding this process a challenge at best and unbearable at worst but we are all completely invested in the necessary change and within it are actively questioning the validity of our roles and actions...”

    While the AWG had already been concerned about the process it was engaging in and the agency it would have – the CFCCA hired an external consulting company to manage and deliver the revisioning project for double the fees the AWG were being paid – the cancellation was met with shock from Lee.

    “Whether they actually understood the term fully, I'm not really sure,” Lee told VICE World News. “But to turn it around and use it [white fragility] as an excuse for not being able to engage, it just kind of then means… they were censoring their whiteness yet again… retreating into the boardroom and canceling an urgent conversation that needed to be had.”