To be a woman or femme-identified/identifiable person and engage in politics can feel, at times, like a rebellious act. Since the founding of the United States of America, they have not been included, until recently, as part of “We the people”. To engage with politics as a member of any historically marginalized group is a different experience. One which has not enjoyed any exploration and examination at the same level as the “politics as usual groups”.
WSWUBT is a group exhibition that encourages artists to provide their perspective, to peel back the layers of white-washed history and examine the 19th Amendment, a non inclusive historical moment, through new perspectives that can not be ignored or erased.
On Aug. 18th, 1920 the 19th Amendment was ratified. It stated, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”. This in effect gave every female citizen the right to vote under the Constitution, although in reality it only gave a privileged few white females that right. The right to vote and to have one’s voice heard and counted has always been held in an almost sacred regard since the founding of our government. Our country’s belief that the governed should have a say in how they are governed is one that has not proven to be inclusive of all citizens or people.
In actual practice we as a country have denied equal opportunities to vote to persons historically categorized as marginalized groups, especially women of color. Even with the passage of the 19th Amendment women of color were not allowed to vote until decades after this amendment was ratified. Indigenous Americans were not granted citizenship and the right to vote until 1947. Asian American women did not win the vote until the passage of the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952. African – and Latinx-Americans did not gain the explicit right to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Currently all members of the African-American and Indigenous communities are fighting for fair and equal access to ballot boxes.
What Stories Would the Unintended Beneficiaries Tell, takes a new look at equity, equality, our collective history, and the erasure of marginalized history. CoCA seeks to ascribe new perspectives and visual meanings to restructuring of the Amendment through visual space supporting open transparency in thought and opportunities for creative actions.
Featured artists: Monyee Chau, Bonnie Hopper, Ashante Kindlé, Lisette Morales, Charly ‘Carlos’ Palmer, and Carletta Carrington Wilson