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The White Lie of Capital and Culture

I often write notes from the field on my LinkedIn profile to give people real time updates about what it is like for a Black man to maneuver through the world of culture building, culture making, and culture keeping.

In my recent experience, I decided to draw from my roots of written expression, and write the following poem. Hopefully, it gives you a glimpse of what it is like…

The White Lie About Capital and Culture

“White-led organizations use culture as a means to acquire capital, but rarely do those investments actually make it into the culture.

A truth obscured by the white lies of an extractive system.

I have learned:

We, the people of culture, are viewed as "a risk" when it comes to direct investment.

And, in order to secure capital for our own culture, we must compete with or collaborate with organizations that are considered "safe investments” for funders.

And, if we do dare to apply for funding alone, we must prove we can "mitigate the risk" through rigorous applications and interviews.

It equates to multiple grants being denied, with a nice note and words of encouragement that read something along the lines of: "give it one more try."

I often wonder: do the judges on the panels tap into the deepest root of the truth:

Many people of culture were used AS capital,

Enslaved and exploited for centuries,

before even having the right to acquire capital.

This is the harsh reality

Of capital and culture,

That gets covered up with white lies,

empty words and false promises.

Yet, we continue to build culture, make culture, and keep culture.

We continue to demand that the resources that are rightfully ours, flow into our communities that have willfully been neglected for decades.

We continue to make our voices heard,

Until the white lies of capital and culture,

Are replaced with equity, justice, and the fact that we all know is true:

There is not culture,

Without me, and U…"


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