Introducing the statement jumpers tackling tokenism in the creative industry
03 Jun 2016
“Tired of being a token?” Jacob V Joyce asks on the GoFundMe page for their latest project: Token jumpers.
The London-based artist, and member of collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, describes themselves as an “interdisciplinary artist that disrupts commercial and community spaces with queer and decolonial creative interventions”. With their latest project Jacob hopes to do just that by highlighting the problems that arise when tokenism is used in academic and creative circles.
“As a black queer artist sometimes I’m invited to events to tick a box, meet a diversity quota or to provide a distraction from institutional inequalities that are going unchecked”, Jacob explains. “It’s much easier to invite a brown face in for the day than it is to invest the time and effort it takes to tackle institutional racism, but frankly I’m tired of being the grateful token.”
“Many women, LGBTQI, disabled people and POC know all too well how it feels to be the only non-white, cis, able-bodied male at an event especially those events which claim to champion diversity or tackle inequalities. It feels uncomfortable”.
To bring this problem to light, Jacob hopes that by donning a jumper emblazoned with the slogan “TOKEN” people will start to realise that members of marginalised groups are tired of being used to promote a forced and misleading mask of diversity. “Inevitably most of us will have to navigate spaces that are dominated by cis white men but we should not have to feel complicit in their lack of diversity”, Jacob elaborates. “Academia, the Art world, Fashion, Cinema and the Music industry are but a few areas where disabled people, POC, LGBTI folk and women have to work much harder to reach the same positions as men and are often invited in as an afterthought. This jumper, as well as being a pretty sweet addition to your wardrobe, says ‘I’m here, but I don’t want to be the only one here.’”
It’s a simple gesture but one that undoubtedly will have a powerful impact. Just imagine if the only female comedian on a panel quiz show rocked up to the recording wearing one of these jumpers and it was broadcast on TV… Or if they were donned by the carefully placed people of colour and wheelchair users in university prospectuses!
The jumpers have been making waves already at events, but Jacob wishes to spread the word even further. You can help them in their endeavour by donating to or sharing the project’s GoFundMe page.