Statement On Our Instagram Post

by Rainey Knudson November 5, 2016

This week there was an unfortunate post on the Glasstire Instagram account. An image meant to ridicule Donald Trump’s rhetoric of “bad hombres” and building a wall along the border with Mexico was received by some viewers not as a satire of Trump, but as an insensitive commentary on Mexicans and Latino immigrants crossing the border. That was not our intention in the least. I removed the post from Instagram and apologized for it. I’m very sorry to have fanned the fires of this terrible election cycle.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be reaching out more to artists and writers of color in Texas. We want to listen to any concerns that exist out there, and do our part to address them. We are on the side of artists in this state and we always have been. Being a visual artist in Texas is a labor of love. Without them we wouldn’t be here, and we know it.





someone who understood your lame joke November 5, 2016 - 18:16

This is one of those half apologies, the one that assumes that the viewers were too dumb to pick up on your lame wit so it’s their fault for being offended. Get over yourself and admit that the picture was stupid (at the very least) and racist (the little sombreros and bushy mustache were a nice touch.) And don’t blame the election cycle. Blame yourselves for believing that you thought it’d be funny to mock people who risk their lives and endure some of the worst conditions possible only to be called rapists and job stealers.

Alex November 6, 2016 - 23:03

“In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be reaching out more to artists and writers of color in Texas.”

Umm, what kind of an apology is this? This so-called solution is nothing but an empty gesture in hopes that all of this will blow over. How about instead of offering up a half-assed response, you acknowledge that what was posted was 1) insensitive and racist and 2) was due to a total lack in forethought (at least) or complete lack of empathy (at worst).

Offended. Relaxed. Pissed again. November 6, 2016 - 23:20

First half of your statement is accurate. The second half of your statement works to delegitimize the first. In the end, it seems merely self serving & a promotional opportunity for your publication.

In the state of texas... November 7, 2016 - 11:32

Here here

Michelle Serrano November 7, 2016 - 05:42

Brown face is brown face. No context or long term thinking, but this whole dialectic of the “well meaning white person” seems to ring a bell for me. As a person who lives in the border community, but who spent my formative years in Houston, I blame these attitudes for my initial rejection of my culture–because of the institutions like yours that diminish our complex backgrounds to Brownface. Luckily, I’m older and smarter now. I recognize that we as marginalized people are all different and deserve better than a brown face costume to acknowledge social constructs that do more to reinforce than deconstruct institutional racism.

Side Eye November 7, 2016 - 12:40

What artists and writers of color are going to want to work with Glasstire to clean up this mess?

Unacceptable November 7, 2016 - 13:08

It is so unfortunate that my job requires me to submit to your website.. I cannot believe for such a “progressive and forward thinking” art website that you think this is OK?! The fact that you made fun of a marginalized group of people is so offensive and insensitive. You know better.

I know for a fact you aren’t approving people’s comments in order to filter out what the community truly feels. GIVE A REAL APOLOGY and not a statement. Deflecting the truth in order to keep your pride is pathetic and I would say the majority of the Houston art scene is infuriated with glasstire

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 13:48

Only one comment on this post has not been approved, and that because it comes under the category of a personal attack against somebody. We never approve those comments, regardless of subject matter or intended target.

You’re correct, Unacceptable: we do know better than to make fun of marginalized people. And that’s exactly what we weren’t trying to do. We are sincerely sorry about the post. We get (we really do) that something we thought was obviously satirical, obviously wasn’t.

Jimmie November 7, 2016 - 14:25

Wait, let me get this straight. You do not allow “personal attacks” against your writers (I have seen this alleged personal attack; it is factual not slander), yet you willingly publish numerous personal attacks thinly veiled as criticism?

Most blatant recent example:

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 14:32

We don’t allow personal attacks against anybody in the comments.

The review you link to is sharply critical of the artist’s ideas, not of the artist herself.

Jimmie November 7, 2016 - 16:16

“He makes this review personal by using her name in the title instead of the essay’s name and by glossing over the essay entirely save for five excerpted phrases, decontextualized from a larger network of thoughts, interspersed into a rampage through his own biography.”

Isabel November 7, 2016 - 14:54

Are you considering it a personal attack purely because the people posing for this piece of “satire” were named? I have read the comment you are calling a personal attack and it most definitely wasn’t.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 15:14

If you’re asking whether I’ve ever seen worse, it’s true: nobody was instructed to disembowel themselves or accused of being a pederast in the comment you’re referencing. However, I deemed it to be “below the belt,” and chose not to publish it.

Michael November 7, 2016 - 15:48

That question was nowhere in Isabel’s reply, and by deflecting towards “worse” comments, you associate the deleted comment with an attack when it merely stated facts.

Do you have written policies or criteria for moderating the comment sections on Glasstire’s posts? I’m sure the community would be interested in reading them.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 15:53

Our only policy regarding comments is that we reserve the right to publish or not publish any user-submitted comment in full or part as we see fit. If you want to read more about my thoughts on comments you can do so here:

Isabel Arbeláez Botero November 7, 2016 - 16:31

No I’m not asking if you’ve ever seen worse or if this was just a mild “personal attack.” I asked you if you chose not to publish that comment because their names were explicitly stated. I am asking you what about the comment was “below the belt”?

Honestly, your current defense of not posting that comment is not in line with the article you wrote in 2014. Nothing in that comment was libel or scandalous and you even say that if there is a constructive dialogue to be had then those people should post. You state that Glasstire will be reaching out to artists and writers of color. These comments are also part of that opportunity and your defensiveness is all too telling.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 16:50

Perhaps I’m reading the comments on this thread incorrectly, but what I’m picking up on here is a rather unseemly and rapacious desire to publicly shame individuals, rather than engage in any kind of “constructive dialogue.” It should be obvious that I’m not going to permit that kind of McCarthyan activity on Glasstire.

p.s. I respect the fact that you posted your comment under your own name. Thank you.

Michael November 8, 2016 - 12:20

If that is your takeaway, then yes, you are reading the comments incorrectly. It seems that you’ve confused a call for accountability, acknowledgement, and a true apology with a desire to publicly shame a member of the community. I’m sure there are plenty of people in the arts community who would be more than willing to engage in a constructive dialogue on this matter.

Rainey Knudson November 8, 2016 - 15:50

I’m certain there are people in the art world who would be willing to engage in a constructive dialogue on this matter; and we are working on doing so productively — which means taking the time to visit with people in person and develop sincere and impactful outreach (which, let’s face it, doesn’t generally involve shrill, anonymous comment threads and ragey social media pile-ons).

Questionable... November 7, 2016 - 16:38

Wait, so one of the founders of Glasstire has to approve comments on an open forum, but people employed by them can post that photo without approval?

I highly suggest that people read Nathaniel Donnett’s post on this matter.

It’s by far a much more compassionate piece than the statement released by Glasstire over this inconsiderate misstep.

unimpressed November 7, 2016 - 16:46

The idea you don’t publish personal attacks on Glasstire is absurd. You allow them when it suits you.

Sergio Martinez November 7, 2016 - 17:07

Leaving the obvious issues of cultural insensitivity and latent racism aside; how can Glasstire, as source of art and cultural criticism be taken seriously when they show such a colossal lack of foresight and taste?

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 17:20

If your argument is that white critics have no right or ability to assess the work of artists of color, then that’s a conversation I think is interesting, pertinent, and worth discussing. However if your argument is that nothing on this site should be taken seriously because of one really awful and stupid Instagram post, well…

Sergio Martinez November 7, 2016 - 18:23

The really awful and stupid instagram post is just part of the problem. The fact that it took this long and this many complaints for Glasstire to halfheartedly take responsiblity, act, and detract such a basic and lazy attempt at satire, speaks more to the issue of credibility.

I am not knocking everyone that writes there, I think there just seems to be a serious cultural disconnect at the organizational level.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 19:33

But is is a problem of credibility when we sincerely (albeit wrongheadedly) believed this was effective political satire? I am sure we all agree that the idea of a border wall is a very real, and very dangerous, political reality. However one wants to address it — and I think this episode makes it abundantly clear that misguided attempts at humor are not the best approach, not that supporters of a wall give a damn about what we do — I imagine I’m not the only person who is dismayed by the xenophobia, isolationism, protectionism and basic fear of The Other that has surfaced in this election.

B. B. Wolfe December 15, 2016 - 19:29


Has this blown over enough to actually have a conversation about it?

Why did you feel the need to cling to the defense of “effective political satire” even after persons of color spoke out and said no? Effective or not, if someone says your “satire” offends or marginalizes them, listen.

Do you realize that these things you claim have “surfaced in this election” have been affecting POC their whole lives? They were literally built into the foundation of this country.

And, you imagine you aren’t the only person dismayed? Based on what? Your ivory tower assumptions? Because I see no dialogue occurring.
Where is the reaching out that was promised? You don’t really ask questions. You don’t seem to engage unless in the form of one or two line quips as comment responses and even then it is really only ever in defense.

You have the reins of one of the greatest tools for dealing with these threats: a (potential) outlet for open discourse centered around art and culture.

Use it for good.

Nicole Geary November 7, 2016 - 18:03

My response to this response:
The first sentence was written in a passive voice, which didn’t take responsibility for actually posting the photo, as if it magically got posted. There is a further lack of “apology” by blaming us for not getting it. The original post never put the image in the context described above. And finally, saying Glasstire will “reach out to artists of color” should be what it does all along. This is Texas.
I’m pretty upset and you can tell by my name and website that I’m not an artist of color.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 19:43

A fair critique. It’s true: this Instagram post was a terrible mistake, and I’m very sorry for it. I’m sincerely interested in listening to people’s concerns and addressing them, and I’m in this for the long haul.

Sapphire November 7, 2016 - 19:54

Lets be honest, you rarely cover the work of artists of color, feature writers of color, and have generally missed the mark “culturally” so many times (ie going on self indulgent tangents about elitism which further alienate your audience) it’s hard to take you guys seriously.

As an exercise scroll through your features page and see how far you go before you see a brown/black person. Does that accurately reflect THE art community in Houston or YOUR art circles?

This is reminiscent of when Lena Dunham got criticized for not having black actors on Girls and then started the first episode of the next season by sleeping with Donald Glover. She meant well but it was tacky. So all that to say don’t announce that you will reach out to artists of color, just do it. Your audience saw when you weren’t so give them enough to credit to see when you actually do.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 20:20

When I say we are reaching out to writers and artists of color, I don’t say it to placate or be irritating, but because it’s true. We had been doing so prior to this episode, and we will continue to do so.

A.P. November 8, 2016 - 08:59

If you had been doing so prior to “this episode” there would have been no need to announce that you will do so in the future. Your archive speaks for it self.

Anonymous November 7, 2016 - 22:38

Effective satire is clearly conveyed and does not require an explanation. The costume would have been a terrible mistake on its own, but to have the tacit (or, more honestly, explicit) endorsement of Glasstire The Publication makes it even more upsetting. Unfortunately no explanation can fix the issue that the costume is misguided at best, and outright racist at worst. It would have been offensive in an off-election season, and I think that needs to be recognized and the official apology should reflect the gravity of what has happened here.

And to be honest, the promise of reaching out to artists and writers of color epitomizes the problem with GT that many people have perceived for a while now. That sufficient staff are not employed that personally feel the danger presented by the words of Donald Trump as evinced by that post is a detriment to what GT is attempting to accomplish.

We deserve a sincere apology, not the running commentary of apologists.

Rainey Knudson November 7, 2016 - 22:46

Respectfully, I don’t think one has to be a Latino or African-American to personally feel the danger presented by the words of Donald Trump.

Victoria Paige Gonzalez November 7, 2016 - 23:05

Mrs. Knudson,

You state in the apology you are willing to listen to your viewers. Well what we want is a re-stated apology. What we want is Brandon the one who wore the costume to speak on behalf of his mistake. This isn’t a new thing where people have had to personally apologize for their actions. Just recently Hilary Duff (ironic fact she is born and raised in Houston) and Liam Hemsworth made personal statements about dressing up as “natives” for Halloween this year. Their managers, a second party affiliation, did not speak on their behalf.

I am done hearing about this image of a “Mexican climbing over a wall” directed towards being a satire reflecting Trumps actions. This image has existed way before he came along and it is the same image that reflects the backward history we are taught in school and through media. This image reinforces stereotypes of Mexican immigrants as trespassers. That image is propaganda that promotes racism. The evolution of that border has robbed indigenous and Mexican people of their land, language, history, and pride. Stop referring to it as a satire.

Marcos Hdez November 8, 2016 - 08:11

I find it quite dishonest that you still consider it satire and not willing to call it what it is.

That’s the same reasoning college republicans use when they do their annual “find the illegal alien” scavenger hunts on college campuses.

Rainey Knudson November 8, 2016 - 11:23

How is it dishonest to call the post a failed attempt at satire? That’s what it was. It was a bad mistake. I’m very sorry for it.

Joachim West November 13, 2016 - 12:53

I’m a Jewish/Hispanic artist. I know what it feels like to be insulted and to be the butt of a cruel joke just because of my heritage. I’ve been called a kike and a spic and been told jokes about the holocaust by people who wanted to make me feel like hell.
I don’t think that this is what’s going on here. I think that the people at Glasstire were genuinely trying to make a statement in support of Latinos against Trump and it just came off as goofy and insensitive.
I think that they assumed that if it were a woman wearing the mustache and that the sombrero was four tiny plastic sombreros on a headband that it would be seen as so outlandish that it wouldn’t be taken seriously enough to be disparaging to anyone.
That’s my opinion because I see the kinds of things that they post on Facebook and I know that they aren’t bigots but genuinely want to be friends with everyone.
I think that we should be careful not to shoot our friends in the crossfire and that their apology should be given the benefit of the doubt, especially since they have done plenty to benefit the arts in general. They give coverage to artists of all stripes. I don’t currently live in The United States but I used to live in Dallas and I followed who they gave coverage to in the area. In fact, some of the most positive reviews that I remember reading from them were for artists of color and artists from the LGBTQ spectrum. Even now, for an extended time as their top story, they are giving coverage to an extremely talented artist who makes what he calls “very queer portraits”.
I didn’t get a lot of coverage from Glasstire. They didn’t make it out to see the last six shows that I did in Dallas but I never felt like it was because of my background and if I start to work in Dallas again and I get reviewed by them, I want it to be because as art critics they enjoy my work. I don’t want art critics to have some sort of racial quota system. In fact, for me as an artist, the fact that the art world fails miserably at being a meritocracy is already its biggest problems.


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