My goal was to create images that would be both historical and contemporary that would situate race in ways that are not commonly viewed. I employed images that I felt told a story that was separate from the quotation I placed on each of them. Each of these images satirizes race relations and history, placing African Americans in a place of privilege. I wanted to privilege the black voice in this assignment and shed light on a few privileges that are not and were not historically bestowed upon African Americans. The white guy in the blue shirt that appears in each image is representative of white confusion. He is looking at these scenes with utter confusion as none of these situations are playing out as he imagined they would based on the current social system of the United States.
With the meme featuring the text, “And once the runaways were captured, they were punished #Karma,” I used an image displaying a slave rebellion that took place in St. Domingue (now Haiti) where French men are being murdered by Africans. I wanted to reverse history where whites were the slaves and black men were slave owners, to shed light on the cruel manner runaways were handled. I employed #karma to joke at the idea of blacks overturning institutions of whiteness and disturbing the life of white people much like those of native/indigenous and African peoples were when they were taken from their homes and forced into labor. The confusion here lies in the ideas of the whites being runaways and the black men exerting their power and beating them, as they are no longer the owned, but the owners.
“We mowed the lawn so we sittin here #BlackDefiance,” depicts former slaves as well as a soldier from the Civil War on the white house lawn. I bring ideas of black servitude and racialized spaces into question with this image. Black people were allowed to do domestic work in these kinds of spaces, but could not enjoy the beauty and sense of serenity that they provided for others by maintaining a clean and respectable space. I placed these former slaves on the white house lawn because I know it is a space they were barred from gathering on. Placing Harriet Tubman (woman on the left holding a bowl) on the lawn was also significant as she saved many from the institution of slavery that individuals who served in this house sought to preserve. She is a symbol of defiance as much as their decision to remain on the lawn. I also hope to bring attention to the number of policies that were created to police the lives of African Americans and how the “black problem” was an issue commonly discussed in the white house.
#OppositeDay” may be one of the most self explanatory as it shows a black man getting his shoes shined by a white child. This shows a black man, with a cigar in one hand and a cane in the other, getting his shoes shined, with a satisfied look on his face as this small child shines his shoes. This image displays a role reversal as African Americans commonly shined the shoes of white businessmen as a form of employment. I recently went home and saw that this black guy, who I haven’t seen in a number of years, is still shining shoes in the train station. This image just played on a role reversal as the black man is of a higher class/status than the child shining his shoes.
“All I said was ‘he stood his ground’ and Voilá” is directly attacking the idea that certain defenses work for white people but not for black people. I am calling into question the Treyvon Martin case as well as those involving Jordan Russell Davis, and Marissa Alexander to name a few. In these cases, unarmed victims were killed, and their families were not able to receive justice. I used the stand-your-ground laws as the basis for this as it has worked in favor of white Americans and not African Americans.
“The Back-to-Europe Movement Begins tomorrow #NativeDreams” is in direct opposition to the Back-to-Africa movement initiated by Marcus Garvey. The notion of a back to Europe movement would sound preposterous to some white Americans as they have been conditioned to believe they are the embodiment of Americanism. White is American, anything else has been otherized and is never seen as purely American. A back to Europe movement would have allowed indigenous populations of the Americans and Africa the space to create laws and rebuild their land that was robbed of its natural resources and restore their lives that were disrupted by slavery.
Kwame Adams - 14'