A message of solidarity from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

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CITING THE words of the late Bahamian politician, trade unionist and lawyer, Sir Randol Fawkes, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas reaffirmed their quest to use art as a tool to ‘disrupt, to engender reflection, to initiate difficult conversations and to instigate change’.

In a statement the organisation felt compelled to put out in the midst of a global awakenng around the plight of black people around the world and the systemic and institutional injustices they face, the NAGB wrote:

“We at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB), the entire staff and Board, recognize the need to speak out on the continued injustices we witness on a daily basis at home – and at this current time – around the world. 

Words from the wise Sir Randol Fawkes

“The entire team grieves deeply not only for George Floyd and his family but for the many other Black lives that can be named—Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan MacDonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Jamar Clark, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stefon Clark, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Nina Pop—and the many more that will forever remain unnamed, who are and were victims of racist violence.

“Police brutality and prisons overcrowded with Black bodies are directly linked to a systemic and corrupt worldview that privileges skin colour, power, and class over humanity. While united in our outrage, we acknowledge that unequal systems remain in place globally, not only in the US, but also at home—and also here within our own institution—and that we must continually strive to learn, to do better, to stand up to injustice and to ensure we are not perpetuating an inherited system that is fundamentally unethical.

“Today, the first Friday in June, is Randol Fawkes Labour Day in The Bahamas, a day that memorialises the Burma Road Rebellion, the historical marker of the beginning of our Majority Rule movement. This “riot” was the moment of crystallisation when historic and contemporary injustices came to a head and, as such, we recognise and support the need for protest to engender change.

“The story of our country does not end with Independence, however, as power structures – descended from our colonial past – remain firmly in place, which continue to disadvantage the many over the few.

“At the NAGB, we unequivocally denounce racial violence and discrimination—not only that evinced outside of our community—but that within our communities, which has been further exposed by recent crises, such as Covid-19 and Hurricane Dorian.

“We firmly believe that art has the power to disrupt, to engender reflection, to initiate difficult conversations and to instigate change. We reiterate our dedication to our community and to our mandate to “educate, uplift and inspire” through Bahamian art, celebrating our diversity and history and, on this day, we commit to Fawkes’ own pledge from 16th April, 1945:

“I […] do hereby firmly RE-SOLVE that I shall hereafter let every thought, every act of mine be decided and weighted in the scale of human values, so that whatever I do may benefit not only one or two individuals but humanity at large and I do hereby dedicate my life to the service the Oppressed. […]

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