February 1 – International Day of Black Women in the Arts

Posted on February 1, 2019

In the U.S., women are about 51% of the population AND about 51% of the visual artists working today. But artworks created by women make only a tiny amount (3% - 5%) of current displays or permanent collections in museums, and are very much in the minority (25 - 35%) as far as gallery representation and solo exhibits, as well.

And we all know that, whenever and wherever women are treated unequally, black women are treated even more unequally.

There are some signs of hope that the
future may be more equitable.

Women also make up an equitable number of performing artists - musicians, dancers, and actors - but are, compared to men, underpaid and under-represented among composers, choreographers, and film/stage writers, and WAY underpaid / unrecognized / under-represented as studio and company and record label heads, as producers and directors.

And, again, the gap is even more drastic for black women.

This statistic may or may not hold in the performing arts
industries, but it is true across all industries.

Last but not least, tons of the working literary writers are women, but female authors get less notice and fewer reviews, have their books relegated to lesser categories and lower shelves, and are often assumed to be writing for women only. The inequality enacted by publishers and prize-givers and reviewers and bookshop folks is pretty much equalled by the inequality enacted by readers: boys and men are much less likely to read books by female authors than girls and women to read books by male authors. This is why women have and sometimes still do write with male pseudonyms or using their initials rather than their full names. Readers' prejudices even stretch to characters: boys and men are much less likely to read books with female main characters than girls and women to read books with male main characters. (Harry Potter, anyone?)

And...do I have to go on? Where women are underpaid and under-represented, black women are massively more so.

Today's a great day to try to even up at least the amount of attention given to black women in the arts. Here's my small contribution:

Julie Mehretu:

Njideka Akunyili Crosby:

Kehinde Wiley:

Amy Sherald:

Emma Amos:

Simone Leigh:

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye:

Carmen de Lavallade:

Virginia Johnson:
Dance Theater of Harlem
Lauren Anderson and Misty Copeland:

Kendra Kimbrough Barnes:

Black Choreographers Festival

Ava DuVernay:

Mara Brock Akil:

Black Lightning

Missy Elliott:

Toni Braxton:

Maya Angelou:

Toni Morrison:

Nikki Grimes:

Andrea Davis Pinkney: 

By the way, happy beginning of Black History Month

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