We can’t afford it We’ve been nickeled and dimed far too many times To make fun of our sisters on the welfare line or To make fun of the young queens on the payday loan line in a bind Trying to pay fall tuition in the wintertime No more change left to spare There’s no […]
And to think I used to want to be a teacher..
Now here in this country, we’ve got something called a nigger..
We have invented the nigger.
I didn’t event him.
White people invented him.
I’ve always known,
I had to know by the time I was 17 years old,
What you were describing was not me,
And what you were afraid of was not me
It has to be something else,
Something YOU were afraid of – you invested me with.
Now, if that’s so…
No matter what you’ve done to me,
I can say to you this, and I mean
And I know,
And I’ve always known,
And really always – that’s part of the agony –
I’ve always known that I am not a nigger.
But if I am not the nigger,
And if it’s true that your invention reveals you,
Then who is the nigger?
I’m not the victim here.
I know one thing from another…
I know I was born, I’m gonna suffer and I’m gonna die.
The only way to get through life is know the worst things about it.
I’ve learned this because I had to learn it.
But, you still think, I gather,
That the nigger is necessary.
Well, he’s unnecessary to me,
So he must be necessary to you.
So I give you your problem back.
You’re the nigger, baby; it isn’t me.
-James Baldwin: Who is the Nigger? (excerpt from a 1963 television transcript)
I’m not sure what I’ve been doing thus far, but I finally got my life together and visited Savannah College of Art & Design, better known as SCAD. Well, SCAD FASH, where the school’s fashion and film exhibits are featured. It’s a pretty space and just $10 for us regular folks to visit, so I’ll definitely be making more trips.
Omar Victor Diop was the subject in his own series: Project Diaspora. He depicted many historians, yet incorporated soccer – balls, cleats, the red card, a whistle, etc. After speaking with one of the guides in the museum, I agree that in the original portraits, the subjects were holding something else and adding in the soccer elements is Omar’s way of personalizing and modernizing the photos even further.
I thought Project Diaspora was super fun and unique; I can’t recall ever seeing anything like it. Omar has a beautiful, androgynous face that worked perfectly to share his vision. You can read more about him and his work here and be sure to check out the haps at SCAD if you’re ever in Atlanta.
White people are just as sick of black history month as black people are, for the same reasons. You see, to a black person, black history month is full of what white people done to black people. To a white person, it’s the same — it’s white people doing things to black people. So, in knowing that, wouldn’t Black History Month be a brutally, radically honest element of white history?
We need confidence in our knowledge of who we are.
The Dirty Dozen: Jim Crow Fantasies
I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception for Okeeba Jubalo‘s art exhibit, The Dirty Dozen: Jim Crow Fantasies. If you’ve never heard of him (I hadn’t), I encourage you to peep his bio. He’s very interesting with a substantial career, humble with a quiet confidence whose weighty works speak volumes.
This piece (above) was the sunny spot of the exhibit. Or was it? I took it as being your own leader with your own thoughts- not outsourcing for acceptance, love or guidance. A god within, if you will. A unique, self-fueled standard of intelligence and beauty. It sounds kinda easy, but how many people can you tick off that refuse to face themselves(G-check) or dismiss constructive criticism? How many do you know that are stubborn and completely unwilling to consider differing ideas and opinions? Can you look in the mirror and only speak positively-not just “good” things about yourself, but the uncomfortable adjustments required to be better?
Okeeba Jubalo has taken it upon himself to create a visual voice for those made invisible in America’s social, economic and political infrastructure.(source)
His show was part of Transcendence, a Black History Month celebration of art, culture, togetherness and-the obvious-history.
When I walked into the gallery, I thought this hints of Basquiat-violent, graphic and almost primitive. Okeeba paints us as the caricatures found on brand-name products and their ads a few decades back. It may not be so blatant or as popular anymore, but it’s still being practiced today. Jim Crow Fantasies is an uncomfortable reminder that we’re still viewed as caricatures. Children in adult bodies. Fools. Even with the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, we haven’t grown much from the era of Jim Crow, blackface, begging for “equality” and tap-dancing for white jesus.
I could really go into some of these pieces, but I’d like to leave it up to you, the viewers, to share your own interpretations. My little camera phone doesn’t do it justice, but I promise I tried.
As always, thanks for tuning in. And Okeeba, thank you for your necessary contributions to the art world.