It seems as if the Google Arts & Culture App has gone viral over this past weekend. When my mother sends me selfies that match her face with faces appearing in well-known pieces of art, you know shit has gone viral.
On Monday, someone I know posted his art matches on Instagram with the caption, “This thing is broken.” He is a 38-year-old, black man and his first match was a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the second and third matches were white women.
He posted more results today. One was a statue of an unknown black child and the other two were of white, European men. His caption was a skull and coffin. Dead.
When I saw his MLK match on Monday I shook my head. I was outraged but then I had to remind myself of the tendency of fine art, throughout the ages, to favor white Europeans.
Because of this favoritism, the art database Google is drawing from is most likely skewed white. Therefore, if you are not white and you use this app, you will probably get at least one or two ridiculous results.
So, next time you are wondering if you are privileged or not, think about your Google Arts & Culture app results. If all of your art matches match your skin tone and/or ethnicity, you might be privileged.