I’ve been saving this Rolling Stones magazine issue for awhile, because I knew I wanted to make something with the pages in it. It’s the issue that covered the George Floyd protests.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the pages, but it came to me this past week as I prepared for #OffLocation. I was looking through the pages, thinking about what it means to be black in America.
Obviously, I can’t really know what that feels like, but I’ve got eyes, and I can see. I have seen a lot over the years, especially growing up in Alabama where racism isn’t a buzzword. It’s in your face. You see it everyday.
When I was 12, I changed schools, going from a primarily white, rich school to a school that was half black/half white and underfunded. I will never forget the bs kids said to me knowing I was switching schools.
They said things like, “Did you know the cheerleaders (the white ones) date the basketball players (the black ones) at that school?” And, “You know most of that school (the black half) is on the free lunch program?”
It wasn’t clear to me what anyone was trying to say at the time. I just said, “So?” to each question. I didn’t understand why it was a conversation. I’ve always been pretty naive when it comes to people’s intentions.
Now, of course, I get it. I know those kids who said those things to me were learning how to be systemically racist from a young age. They were associating inner-racial couples with “sin.” They were insinuating that black kids were poor without saying it.
Around my senior year, I was hanging out with a friend in his front yard, and he saw a couple (black) moving into a home a few houses down, and he said, “Great, the value of my house is gonna go down.” I asked why, and he said because when black people move into your neighborhood white people don’t want to buy homes there (No, we aren’t friends anymore).
The year after I graduated, a really kind, athletic, funny classmate of mine who was only 18 was murdered in front of 50 people in a parking lot by a white kid, his dad, and his dad’s brother. Tyrone Grant was too young to die.
I know y’all have never heard his name before though.
I don’t know what to do about the racism crisis we have in America. I don’t. I don’t know what to create. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do.
But I wanted to make something anyway, and I wanted to say something anyway, so I made this. It’s a bullseye, and you can see in the details who’s in the middle of the target. I used a toy gun to spray it red, which symbolizes blood. Black people are the target. They’ve always been the target. I hope everyone is doing their part to change that as much as possible, starting with conversation.
Writing about it simplifies it way too much, but I wanted to just put this out here anyway.