Can White People Cry Over Open Casket?

Dana Schutz’s work 'Open Casket' has sparked controversy and outrage at the Whitney Biennial in New York City.

It’s hard to imagine that a relatively small picture could spark protests. Some people are even ready to spend their day trying to shield it from the viewers. Why? Unfortunately, it’s all about huge white cynism again.


This painting by Dana Schutz is called ‘Open Casket’, it depicts the battered face of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955, as it appeared in photographs and news reports.


Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till, chose to put her son in the open casket for the farewell ceremony to draw people attention to the horrible white-on-Black brutality of that period. “Let the people see what I’ve seen,” she said.


Now the Black artistic community is outraged by an attempt of the white painter to exploit Till’s image for her own purposes, as there is no other obvious goal behind the creation and exhibiting this picture.

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This picture is an illustration of the upsettingly spoiled nature of white race: it is not about shame or fear, not about sorrow of anger, it doesn’t make a white spectator sympathise with Emmett or feel responsible for his death, that is why it cannot be considered true artwork and should be taken down.

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