When we we talk about land, and we talk about displacement, we must recognize historically who has been most impacted. We must always acknowledge that we are standing on Native land and here in Manhattan – this is the land of the Lenape people. If you are not an indigenous person, you/I are settlers here on stolen land. We must support indigenous led struggles. Our liberation is inextricably tied to their liberation.
Tonight we stand in unity with the Boyle Heights Alliance Against Artwashing and Displacement and Defend Boyle Heights and their boycott of the galleries that have opened in Boyle Heights, including 356 Mission, a gallery co-founded by artist Laura Owens and gallerist Gavin Brown. These galleries are directly responsible for the displacement of businesses and families that have lived in Boyle Heights for generations.
BHAAAD and Defend Boyle Heights are here in NY to share their message of resistance. Their call for investments in businesses that actually serve the people in their neighborhoods –from a laundromat, to a grocery store, to emergency housing for the homeless, have been met with indifference and inaction. They have been criminalized and labelled as ‘anti-art’ but we are standing here tonight to say: we hear you and we support you.
We stand alongside our neighbors in frontline communities who are fighting back against gentrification, from Boyle Heights in Los Angeles to Bushwick, the Bronx, Harlem and Chinatown in New York.
We stand together with coalitions like Defend Boyle Heights and communities across the country who are resisting the profit-driven real estate speculation that has led to a crisis of evictions, homelessness and the loss of jobs for poor and working class people.
We stand in solidarity with communities across the globe who are fighting to protect their culture and their traditions, and who are struggling to save their homes and homeland from erasure.
Housing is a human right. Affordable housing is vanishing as luxury housing has increased exponentially.
Billionaire real estate developers like Donald Trump and Jared Kushner rely on the ‘creative class’ to open commercial galleries, maker spaces, trendy cafes and luxury housing to stimulate investment in our neighborhoods. These so called creative spaces drive out the low-income families who are the real economic engine of our cities.
As artists, we invite you to join the Chinatown Art Brigade, BHAAAD, Defend Boyle Heights and the other activists and residents here this evening, to stand with us and put a stop to artwashing.
Artists and galleries! We call on you to refuse to participate in creative placemaking practices that lead to the displacement and culture erasure of working class communities! Refuse to become weapons of mass displacement!
We call on you to support the organizing struggles to establish and protect humane living conditions for all tenants. Support community organizations and tenant rights advocates who are fighting against illegal harassment and eviction by sharing your resources, access to information and space. Housing for the people, not for profit!