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Noon(ish): Making A Commitment To Diversity More Than Lip Service

In 2017, the Cleveland Museum of Art hung banners quoting part of its mission statement dating back to 1892. [Cleveland Museum of Art]
In 2017, the Cleveland Museum of Art hung banners quoting part of its mission statement dating back to 1892.. [Cleveland Museum of Art]

The view from the Idea Center

Happy Friday, Noon(ish) fans! I’m ideastream’s David C. Barnett sitting in for Amy Eddings today.

Amy told you last week about the new film biography of the late Cleveland entertainer Rudy Ray Moore, called “Dolemite Is My Name.” The movie is very funny, but has a number of serious points to make, including a scene where Moore and a friend, both African-Americans, go to a movie theater featuring a comedy starring mostly white actors. Moore’s buddy watches the film with a perplexed look.

“This ain’t funny,” he said. “And there ain’t no brothers in it, either.”

For decades, many people of color have experienced America’s mainstream cultural offerings feeling left out. It’s an issue museums around the country have started to grapple with in recent years. Last year, the Cleveland Museum of Art unveiled a plan to add diversity to its collections and its staff.  Atlanta’s High Museum has made similar efforts.

In some cases, these plans bring more diverse offerings to museum walls but fall short of the boardroom. A recent study by the American Alliance of Museums documents the problem and its causes.

Check out this conversation I had with a Cleveland Heights native who is working to make some changes in that world.

And if you’re looking for a few laughs this weekend, “Dolemite is My Name” makes its debut on Netflix today.

Passing the mic to Rick Jackson for Monday morning,
David C. Barnett


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Your ideas

Attempts to raise the issue of diversity in art is everywhere these days, from #OscarsSoWhite to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s plan for equity and inclusion in both its collection and its staff. Where do you go to find art that reflects you? Call us at  (216) 916-6476 or post on  our Facebook page. We'll feature some of your thoughts and comments here in Noon(ish) and on Morning Edition.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.