So a friend of mine was visiting my husband and I, when she showed us a You Tube video about the Kara Walker exhibit in Williamsburg Brooklyn that was supposed to spark controversial conversations amongst the races to bring about positive change. When I saw the exhibit I was immediately uneasy and appalled that a Black woman in 2014 would think that this creation would spark positive change. I came across this article: Indypendent-Kara Walker, about a reaction to the exhibit and I have to say I agree. I believe the controversial conversations idea, but positive change? I have to say that a part of me was not surprised. It seems that when we think of slavery while wanting to make people remember what our ancestors went through and the pain that we still feel today, it sometimes ends up perpetuating images and stereotypes that were forced upon us as a people. We should think instead of creating images that would strive to uplift us as a people and challenge these stereotypes by pushing people to think about what we had before slavery, what was stolen: FREEDOM, UNITY, POWER, RICHES, ROYALTY and how we can have them again. How can we make that happen? What needs to be done?
If I were the artist of this work let me tell you my BLACKTOPIAN dream for it. I would have built a huge sphinx of the same African black woman, but with a gold headdress from Egypt wearing a huge gold and jeweled necklace that covered the nipples of her bosom. She would be crouching like a lioness and the backside of her would have a tail. Her expression would be one of contentment, peace and majestic royalty. Jeweled earrings would hang from each ear. There would be a red carpet that rolled out from the entrance of the exhibit to the foot of the sphinx. Alongside the carpet would be little boys holding baskets of jewels and gold and some with fruit and nuts. All would be dressed in royal African clothing with expressions of confidence, power and inner peace. Bags filled with sugar would be ripped, torn, burned, soiled and desecrated all around the edges of the exhibit but far away from the beauty of the scene. Picture it with me. Feel the colors and the meaning behind the art. What would it be like to be black and walk into that kind of exhibit? What would it feel like to discuss it with others? How would you feel? Can you create the change you want to see? Will there be healing or will there be pain? What do you think?
P.S. After I wrote this I googled “Africans in Africa Pre Slavery.” It is amazing what you will find.