Panelists Debate Importance of Racial Categories in Art During Festival

Author, photographer and filmmaker weigh in

Author Jamaica Kincaid and a group of black artists discussed the value of racial categories in art during a panel at the third annual Black Arts Festival Friday afternoon.

K. Anthony Appiah, professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy, moderated the discussion, asking the five-member panel to define what it means to be a "black artist."

The panelists offered conflicting definitions.


"The black artist is literally an artist, someone who does creative work and is of the black race," said writer and performer Staceyann Chin.

But writer and photographer Carla Williams said she felt differently.

"I think I'm here because I define myself as a black artist," Williams said. "All artists who are part of the black diaspora are black artists--not all do black arts."

She defined black art as art that relates to the black experience and culture.

"I'm interested in people who make art about black people, about themselves," Williams said.

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