Michael F Gallagher is a multi-disciplinary artist and bilingual public school teacher based in Chicago, IL exploring definitions of identity and the finding space beyond what society allots for him.
As a white, cis-gender, gay male, I am interested in social justice. I struggle with how to navigate a profoundly racist society as a white man who believes in equality yet feels powerless to impact institutional racism.
White people rarely have candid conversations about race though racism is a white problem that white people need to solve. A few years ago, I began making work to “come out” as white. I attempt to generate discourse around white identity, privilege, and fragility, especially among white people. This can be disconcerting and uncomfortable, because I am forever learning more about my own intrinsic biases and privilege. But sincere, open white voices must be present if things are to change.
I’m troubled that the privilege and power of white voices are necessary to affect this change. I see this in society and myself as an artist. I want people to experience my work, but as a white male saying, “Look at me!” when I am focused on amplifying voices of people of color, reeks of privilege. I do however, believe that any true effort to get white people to examine their identity, is a crucial part of structural change and I want to do my part.