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Austin Chronicle Sidebar: Other Voices on Michael Ray Charles

OCTOBER 27, 1997:  Dr. Edmund Gordon, UT anthropology professor, during the Austin Museum of Art panel discussion:

"Stereotypes are the basis of racism, not ideas... Not to discuss them is to run the risk of perpetuating them."

Mia Carter, audience participant during the Austin Museum of Art panel discussion:

"I want my kids to see this work in this kind of space [at the museum]."

Houston artist Garry Reese, describing his child's reaction to Charles' painting Beware in an open letter published in ArtLies magazine:

"Daddy, what is that?"

"That, my dear, is a SAMBO."

"A sambo, oh yeah. He's Blaack!"

"Yeah, he is."

"He's got hair like Kevin."

"No, baby, Kevin's hair doesn't," Oh hell no, it must not stick, this self-hate thing, this bullcorn, with the hair, with everything, it must not take hold, "stick up like that. It falls down, remember, and it smells good, too."

"Oh yeah." And then she kept turning the pages and looking.

So you see. I have no choice but to write you this uncomfortable creature."

Anonymous black woman, to Blaffer Gallery director Don Baciagalupe after the exhibition:

"You cannot see what grows in darkness. Thank you."

John Yancy, UT art professor, in a gallery talk on Charles' art:

"These are not black images. They are a manifestation of white America's perception of race."


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