Pardon my honesty here, but I really don't know how some of you “New Black” creative brothas and sistas work. Yeah, I am talking to you, the jawn dressing like Basquiat and Lisa Bonet in ‘85 thinking you more enlightened, creative, and different than all us other Black creatives. First and foremost, I love y’all, but we need to talk... Why you always gotta be that one "Anti" when general dope Blackness is happening in the culture!? Or when we checkin’ Black folk doing dumb ‘ish in the media you hesitant...Confused?...
Example, Beyoncé drops Lemonade, and you the first one to tell us that’s “Pipilotti Rist’s Ever Is Over All piece she is ripping off,” that’s cool, but you totally oblivious to the Yoruba Oshun mythos poppin off throughout the whole damn album! And got the nerve to be rocking Sankofa earrings!?.... You were in Brooklyn to see Kara Walker’s Mammy Sphinx, but laughed with your white hipster friends as they took selfies, sticking their tongues out at the ass of the sculpture #sugarmammy….Or how bout you praising New Kanye forbeing the free, worshiping his train-of-thought rants as dogma, and loving him now for being one of the dopest creative minds. But, when we drag him for meeting with Trump post-election looking like Carlton from Fresh Prince dressed as Macaulay Culkin for Halloween, we corny for not letting Black geniuses make mistakes. You ain’t even start listening to him ‘til 808’s anyway, Tonya!
Just this weekend another favorite, Kendrick Lamar, drops DAMN… It’s not To Pimp a Butterfly, so now you mad. “He just rappin’ words other rappers say,” “ I am not feeling anything from him lately, I’d rather listen to my Gil Scott-Heron Anthology on Vinyl, or Saul Williams’ MartyrLoserKing, (which both are dope too btw). BIH! WHO SAID YOU COULD NOT LISTEN TO IT ALL TYRONE!? That’s all good YOU not feelin' it, but we vibing to #kungfuKenny right now, I am not sure ifI agree with all he sayin’, or if every record is dope, but what I do know is I am will not rest ‘til my 5-month-old son know all the words to DNA before Juneteenth of 2017!!
Why you gotta be that person!? Can’t we have anything for lil while before you use your social media as line forum to write a faux-think piece about how you are Anti? You ain’t gotta like all things Black and creative. That’s not the point here, but you always are hesitant to relish in the Blackness of things because you have not accepted, or wrestled with your own Blackness.
Iknow you, you’re an artist, but not a Black artist, and you are a real artist. You went to RISDfor3 semesters, and dropped out because they were not teaching you anything new. You draw, paint, write prose on napkins, play a few chords on the guitar, and only pretend to play your Djembe when camping with pale friends in Montana. You were born in the hood, but were only a baby then. Your parents moved you out to the suburbs when you were ten and that’s where you grew up. You were one of 7 Black kids in the whole school, and everyone confused you with, Darian the star of the football team or Keyana the popular Black cheerleader. You didn’t fit into Black stereotypes your white cohort knew of from watching TV so you assimilated to the school culture as a form of survival, and found solace in art class. You were talented, and Ms. Kramer loved how your work always told such great stories of the struggle of your people, even though you just wanted to draw a portrait of Frederick Douglass' dope parted afro. High School wasn't bad after assimilating, It made you feel good to be known for something other than being Black in a white space. So art is how you got popular, you read Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, watched Basquiat’s Radiant child, and became a pescetarian who occasionally eats bacon. We know you, some of us are you!! But it still doesn’t make you lessBlack than us, and damn sure don’t make you more creative!
It’s hard enough being Black, but being Black and creative in America is a complex experience. Most of us are the only artists in our own families, and get dragged on the daily simply for living a life that surrounds passion, as opposed to one that surrounds capital. So we all get critiqued and at times need to latch on to Black art and Black artists work to get inspired, survive, and thrive in a world that will always chastise Black creativity, steal it, and colonialize it. So nah G, that discourse don’t have to be the look for our fellow creatives out her trying to make ends meet and still broaden our creative process. I was a victim of it for a long time, I constantly wanted to separate myself from being a Black artists, and wouldn’t allow myself to be boxed into the lane of folks drawing portraits of Pac and Rihanna, the Instagram model painting faceless Black women with afros, bruhs putting puffy paint on Tims, or airbrushing tees on the corner. I was the one screaming to the hills that Tyler Perry is sullying Black film, and avoiding the fact he owns the ONLY Black owned film studio in the country while hiring the most Black actors and actresses in the history of Film and TV. His work may not call to me but I don’t knock the fact he has a successful lane in the art world even though I am not driving in it constantly.
I praised Michelangelo and never knew of Henry Ossawa Tanner ‘til college. I closed myself off to so much Black excellence that I find myself constantly playing catch up to creative Black genius on the daily. We don’t have to like every Black creative thing because it’s Black. We are allowed to critique all art. But critique requires an understanding of the standards. And if your standards of all things great, creative, genius, all center on Euro Centric or White American standards as a Black creative, then you my fellow creative have allowed your visual index to be gentrified and colonialized, and you need to be checked! All Black creativity has its lane, and it don’t have to be yours, but allow folks to rock with what they like… Smokin’ hash in the woods out of a Gandalf Longwood pipe with other white artists in a faux indigenous prayer circle while on residency in Minnesota don’t mean you a better artist now. And being the only person of color in your creative circle doesn’t make you unique, it means you’re co-opted and lonely.
Praising the Marina Abramović The Artist is Present doc, and not knowing a damn thing bout Senga Nengudi means you see whiteness as the standard, and you don’t care to know your own peoples creative history… Being awkward, introverted, smart, hipster, and Black ain’t new! You have to start realizing your Black is as Black as everyone else’s Black! And we love you! More than that we affirm all that makes your form of Black!! We know u listen to Yachty and Radiohead! We know you read the sonnets of Pablo Neruda and can wax poetic on their connections to Kanye’s Life of Pablo album, We do too!... Praising Kurt Vonnegut and yawning at James Baldwin, don’t make your mind expanded, it means you are accepting the close-minded white washed view of the world that excludes the Black creative contributions. We have a hand in all this, and its all Black, and we are allowed to relish in every ratchet, trap, silly, scholarly, powerful, flawed, human, sexual, happy, sad, loving, quirky, aakward, emo, and magical Blackexperience we choose.
Stop trying to separate yourself from us, because when the general white creative arts world is done associating with you when you get too Black. We always here for you, just know we may not rock with you like that when you need us to in that moment.