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Saying The Hard Things

February 4, 2018

Kara Walker is an American artist who pulls at the heart strings of her viewers reminding us that stereotypes are REALLY uncomfortable and yet we can all relate to them, which I must say lead me to feel guilt & shame while questioning my own identity as a Black woman. I can remember going to see her work at the Museum Of Contemporary Art while I was studying in Chicago and being in the room with her larger than life depictions of the UNTHINKABLE occurrences and atrocious behaviors of Whites as done to Blacks during the Antebellum south.

 Though I am not of American descent I wondered if my bloodline's story differed from any of those she surrounded me with in stark black paper silhouettes. After all, my parents always remind me that slavery was abolished in JAMAICA years before America caught up but they also tend to act like some of the same atrocities were not committed on our island and throughout the Caribbean. We are optimists in my family & prefer to highlight the positives, talking about how the Maroons weren't standing for that crap and over-simplify killing the slave masters & burning down their cane fields. Sure it reminds us that we as a people refuse to stand for bullshit, but in the same breadth Jamaicans tend to discard the African-American experience as a whole not realizing that the struggle continues {~I guess I have to remind them of how many Africans & African-Americans were killed by police in 2016 alone~} Needless to say that seeing Kara's work up close & personal put me into a cultural shock. Her courage, story telling, and sheer skill brought tears to my eyes and encouraged me to investigate the uncomfortable topics in my own life and ponder the importance of my story and the stories of our ancestors. This Black History Month, I take time out to salute Mrs. Walker and acknowledge her influence in my life and my art. Though we don't know each other, I hope one day I can make her proud.

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