It’s been over a year since the deaths of Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and countless other lives lost to racial injustice and violence. Our community continues to reflect on and respond to the #BlackLivesMatter movement with the recent news of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and several other people of color killed, as well as the killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Below, you will find creative responses shared with The LP community. It is our hope that these works, readings, and resources will provide healing and encourage self care during this volatile time in society:
A Dialogue with the Curriculum of our Nation: A Critical Reading of Moments is Courtney’s poetic response to the murder of Philando Castile, which is in direct dialogue with Diamond Reynolds, the officers at the scene, & Ms. Reynold’s daughter.
Courtney Cook is a former high school English teacher who has been engaged in justice work and critical education in high schools, prisons, and youth-run organizations. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies in Education at University of Texas at Austin.
Aisha made these buttons and shared the following:
“Today’s to-do #1 was to mourn. And to wonder: How do you mourn a person you’ve never met… Why do we mourn? Is it for us or for them? Lately I think about how turning people’s deaths into an activist statement takes away their identity… makes us blind to who they are/were as people just as much as the ones who killed them were blind… I feel like every time I mourn a death as a political statement it lets the killers win in some way.. but how do you mourn a person you’ve never met for who they were as if you would mourn a friend? Is it silly to try? How do we mourn Alton and Philando in a way that affirms their individual identities instead of lumping them into a group?
I made these buttons as a form of defensive propaganda, because I was concerned the media would begin trying to paint these men as criminals. I looked online for the kind of photo I would want of myself if it were going to be seen by lots of people who didn’t know me. Then I listened to or read about their funeral ceremonies and put a note about how each person’s family and friends described them.
But I also made these buttons to share with people who like me wanted to mourn. I feel like I / we mourn constantly… so often we forget to say it… feel redundant saying it. I don’t know if these buttons work the way I had wanted them to. It’s admittedly weird to wear a button like this for someone you don’t personally know. But one happy accident when making them was that the names wouldn’t fit. Which means people who don’t recognize the face sometimes ask “Who is that?” That means they have to say/learn the person’s name or ingest their name in a different light. If you choose to make your own buttons, I think that aspect is worth copying… especially if you live or work in a place where you interact with lots of people who are likely to assume the criminalizing stories. I think creating moments where people experience the name and face as being respected and mourned by someone they know can help undermine those assumptions.”
Members of the BLM-NYC chapter have been working to support an on-going action called #SwipeItForward, and Walter has been helping out by creating visual graphics:
Tarah shared her poem, “untitled.” and artwork, both created in response to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, and the many deaths and acts of violence against the black community due to police brutality. Her visual piece, called /sā/, encourages all of us to speak up against these injustices, whether we are experiencing them or witnessing them.
black boys bleed like running water
we clog wounds with old rags
hoping the water will run out
like tears down tired mothers’ cheeks
blood on pavement
filling crack with lost love and reminders
of blood we’ve lost before
black boys bleed like leaky faucets
their appearance leads others to
suspect that they are faulty
that they need further tightening
only to be pushed too far
red water flows too fast
old rags still wet with rage
are replaced with hands
not holding flesh but blood
and chests and breaths
which turn to fists
still stained red
from black boys before us
– Tarah Douglas
Tarah Douglas is a multidisciplinary artist focusing in textiles, photography, and graphic design.
Nicky Enright, artist, educator, DJ, and writer:
Nicky shared two of his works as his creative response:
Time to Break Silence, audio-video piece, 2016.
A Man Was Lynched Yesterday 2014, acrylic on board, 32″x40”, 2014 (below).
Nicky Enright is a multimedia artist, educator, DJ, and writer. Working at the crossroads of audio and visual media, he explores the construction of identity, and the related theory and practice of currency and borders.
Brian Howard King, artist:
Brian shared with us his sculpture ‘Moloch,’ an iteration of a piece initially created in 2009 using a headless black torso with arms raised. In the previous version, the torso was placed on an elevated platform. The current version (below) is placed on a stool, which creates a human-sized dichotomy between the menace perceived and that exhibited.
Brian Howard King is a conceptual artist based in Oakland, California, who works primarily in sculpture and video.
Sarah’s creative response to #BlackLivesMatter has been an ongoing focus on “Vision & Justice,” a generations long interplay of art, race, and citizenship. The Vision & Justice issue of Aperture was her first engagement with the theme. She was the guest editor of this issue, and “Vision & Justice” will be the topic of her first course at Harvard University and a related exhibition at the Harvard Art Museums.
More about the Vision & Justice Aperture issue can be found here.
Stay Black and Die: A Possible Ethos for Architecture in a Post-Racial Imaginary is an article Mitch wrote, which also features some images of her work. The author would like to acknowledge her mother, Lillian A. McEwen, who recalled the significance of the phrase “There are only two things I have to do: stay Black and die” during civil rights marches and protest speeches in the 1960s.
As Principal of McEwen Studio and Partner at A(n) Office, Mitch McEwen works in architectural and urban design. Before founding McEwen Studio, she worked as an urban designer in the office of Bernard Tschumi Architects and New York City’s Department of City Planning. She is also Assistant Professor in Architecture at University of Michigan.
- A Call for Necessary Craft and Practice and How Writers Can Join the Fight Against Police Violence by The Dark Noise Collective
- Why black lives matter to philanthropy by Brook Kelly-Green and Luna Yasui from the Ford Foundation
- Ebony Noelle Golden (LP’s Cultural Organizing Consultant) talks about Conscious Creativity at Sacred Yoga Studio
- Black Lives Matter: Space for Healing + Justice at Sacred Yoga Studio