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Ebony SkyTalker @sfreynolds
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So, this convo about qualifications of this curator position for African art at the Brooklyn Museum has gotten me thinking about #SaturnInCapricorn. I would love to know if Brooklyn Museum purposely sought out qualified candidates of color, especially of African descent.
But I also can believe, per even the little I know about the Art AND Archeology field, since both new curators have degrees in that field, that there aren't many sisters & brothers in that field. We are not plentiful in all areas of academia & cultural institutions.
Yes, some of that is systemic racism and based on the root causes of systemic racism. That I've never questioned. But there's another issue here, too. Some folks also don't play the long game, either. That's #SaturnInCapricorn.
And some measure of the long game isn't so much played by you, but also played by the culture that makes you. Let me clarify by what appears to be a digression.
When I was in South Africa for an astrology conference, I reported here that I was kind of surprised that there were no folks of African descent there, except as security and cleaning staff. I actually was surprised that I was surprised.
There aren't many folks of African descent at US astrology conferences. And until recently, I had never seen a Black woman speak at an astrology conference. And yes, I had a hand in that.
But once I thought about what was happening in South Africa, it made sense. Black South Africa's middle class is only NOW growing. It might take another or two generations to have the expendable income to study astrology, for example.
What's more, there's no immediate income gratification in certain fields, like astrology or art and archeology compared to other fields, like law, engineering, or work in the media.
Yet, class and education aren't the only metrics to think about with #SaturnInCapricorn. It's also important to be clear on where, specifically, you want to go and work backward on how to get there. Take Brooklyn Museum curator position, for example.
I'm hoping there's a young person outraged by seeing that and then motivated to getting a degree in art & archeology of Africa, so she can curate art that belongs to her heritage. Yet, that still wouldn't be enough.
Ralph Ellison talked about Blackness as its own discipline of LIVING in his essay, World and the Jug. That's always stuck with me. That Blackness conditions us to realize that just having a degree isn't enough, even at the PhD level. You have to mint your life carefully.
This means joining the organizations, going to the schools that will maximize your leverage for certain positions. Establishing a niche in a field that prompts others to seek you out. It's also about building alliances.
I'm grateful that the idea of respectability politics has been laid bare in the early 21st century, so we don't have to spend another century promulgating it. Cuz this is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about building power and platforms. #SaturnInCapricorn
Likewise, the discipline isn't just in the work. Our elders always told us to work hard. But they often left things out, maybe things they didn't know. Like, we also have to work smart. And working hard is not just enough. You better build a team and support.
For instance, going to college can sometimes be educational. But the key benefit is often the network. The network you cultivate there can open other doors for you. And yes a strong name to the institution helps too.
Cuz in many ways, you want to be so dominant in your field, that when you're not considered, it's clear that you were slighted for some reason. Cuz let's face it: traditionally "White" spaces might not go looking for you.
There are many reasons, even beyond racism, why this might happen. For instance, take my field, astrology. There are many folks who feel astrology is racism free. Why? Because nobody actively discriminates in our orgs, publications, or who can attend our conferences!
But what's not acknowledged is who is often absent in the orgs, publications, conferences, etc. Yet, these folks will just say, that's not our fault. On some level, they're right. So, I reframe the issue: are we inviting diversity? Are we invested in diversity?
Yet, irrespective of that, we also have to cultivate our own presence, in those shared spaces and otherwise. I felt the chill of not being included in those predominantly White spaces 15 years ago.
So, I made a different resolution: I will build a platform & body of work that will make them come to me. I did, and they did. Now, I'm in a position of power to create channels for others, and I do. @vegand has done a similar thing.
But it also helps that we study and created our own networks & skill sets. Again, it's not just about credentials. The key is to have a base of discipline and support, like #SaturnInCapricorn teaches. Then you have to use as much #Mars (action and excellence) as...
#Venus to craft relationships and beauty in your interactions with others. Some folks spend time resenting "Who you know" & think nursing "What they know" is important enough. Then wonder why they're stuck.
For more thoughts and lessons on #SaturnInCapricorn, study Barack Obama since he has it natally. (Yes, he's coming up on his 2nd Saturn return.) He might have bought into respectability politics, but he still demonstrates some of these key lessons I'm discussing.
Realize that someone once played the long game for you to be even interested in certain fields, like astrology or art & archeology. It's taken centuries for you to surface. And that's true for almost any people.
You are buttressed by institutions and ancestors who've invested in you, perhaps even inclining you on a genetic level toward certain fields. For instance, I'm not the first "mystic" in my family. I am only the most public.
So, #SaturnInCapricorn teaches us that we must think like we're all capital project engineers, on the brink of building pyramids and cathedrals that will last the test of time. We must also be prepared to act when the time is right.
Most often, we must begin cultivating that time right now, thinking backward from where we want to go. I did and do. You can, too. And don't think to fit in. Penetrate. And let others do the work of including and adapting to you. Keep in your power. #SaturnInCapricorn
When that symbiosis has happened, then there's the possibility of mutation. That's when likely we're now talking about #SaturnInAquarius. We'll talk about that in a few years. ;-)
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