The Center for Art and Critical Conversations

At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), we believe that art should provoke and challenge. We are committed to being a platform for artists to share their work, voice their perspectives, and encourage us to have challenging conversations about important issues and ideas. We aim to be a place for people with diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives to engage with provocative art and ideas.

As part of our Public Square program, we presented the short film Why Don’t We Murder More White People? (WDWMMWP?) by Jonathan Garcia on June 1, 2019. Through interwoven personal interviews, WDWMMWP? presents a critical lens and provokes nuanced questions regarding structural racism. These are not questions that we can afford to shy away from, as white supremacist ideologies and race-related violence continue to flourish in America. This artistic provocation is not intended to target one group or to incite violence; rather, the work is about questioning what and who is worth protecting. That question — what and who is worth protecting — is ultimately about reducing harm and violence.

While the title — when removed from its context — may read as controversial, the nuanced inquiry throughout WDWMMWP? intends to interrogate the systemic ways that “whiteness” is protected. The film essentially asks: “As we continue to watch the death of black and brown people become normalized in parallel with the rise of white supremacy, why isn’t the inverse true?” 

YBCA has long played a leading role in the Bay Area’s cultural infrastructure as an arts programmer and presenter, a community center, and a space for social and cultural exchange.

As a civic institution, we embrace the opportunity to amplify the work of artists who provoke us all to be more self-aware and self-critical and to re-examine our social norms.  

Over the last 48 hours there have been a series of insidious threats aimed at the artist and our organization. These threats are meant to silence us, and they will not work. The presence of white supremacy in our society is not to be shied away from. Indeed, it is at the crux of what prevents our society from becoming equitable and inclusive for all. We believe that artists and arts organizations are essential to advancing our society. YBCA will continue to dedicate space and resources to presenting art that inspires conversation in support of social progress.

Deborah Cullinan,
Chief Executive Officer,
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts