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“Black Like Who?”

THE BAR-B-Q AT HARVARD was unexpectedly juicy. Delectable pulled pork, tangy ribs, and luscious chicken—with all the fixin’s—were served up beneath the pious eyes of those ethereal Northern European portal sculptures that have presided for generations over the serene proceedings within a hall named for Adolphus Busch, just off Harvard Yard. This piquant supper followed an edgy panel discussion titled “Black Like Who?,” one of several arranged by Ellen Phelan, James Cuno, Glenn Ligon, and Karen Dalton for the two-day conference “Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke” (after Ralph Ellison), which was intended to incite discussion over the growing use of racist clichés in ostensibly progressive visual art. Indeed, there was enough high-caliber tension in Busch Hall that, as Cuno, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Museums, raised his glass to those assembled,

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