I always find my words in these podcasts. I’m so quiet in a lot of life. I love to paint in my head rather than slow down and be a part of everything. I must look crazy to most people but it makes me happy. I figure the idea is to find what makes you so happy.
I hope this finds you well and the photos are from this week in my studio. I loved this week’s end.
Being in search of others like you can be a pain in the ass. I’ve had my Youtube channel for around 6 years…but professionally around 3 years. In that time I have met ten People of Color who are also Youtubers. Some of them are overseas. Most are women. It has this oddly invisible feeling about seeing the smallness of our channels. I wish I knew better ways to reach out but in all honesty, I’m not sure how Youtube really works anymore. All the old tricks are being replaced. Metadata doesn’t change how you are searched for that much. People see you first and scroll the past. I’m tempted to change my name on Youtube to a cool nickname because I feel my name Jawara maybe subconsciously is a racist trigger. I think they see Jawara and think “not one of us.” I get a lot of people will not get that but a few of you who live with eyes wide know there are people in the world who make those choices about the people they surround themselves with. This year has been the year of People of Color dealing with a crippling amount of racism. Some outright and other casual. Casual racism is when someone says something racist but doesn’t think they are racist so it must be ok because it is meant as a joke. Most of the time I choose to let casual racism go because I can’t let my day be fucked up every day waiting in line at Starbucks hearing a loud phone call in line about something awful a person says about a race of people who they don’t think are in the room at the time.
Even if they are not around ….it’s still racist.
You can tell because the people in the room either say “that is racist” or the whole room looks away from you or last everyone shakes their heads looking at you. You might think this is them trying not to laugh with you but no… that is the “I hate having to deal with you” face. It feels like a prison sentence for life. If I react and speak up they provoke a response and then hide behind the protections of the law. Which they are most likely to win because the law is often not on the side of People of Color is history. Martin Luther King Jr. was thought of as an outlaw.
I make paintings. I am not a civil rights leader but I feel their word every day. They spoke those words so we could feel them … all of us.
Vamos pegar um cafe. (Let’s go get coffee). But if we do I need to listen and not spin your own narrative at us. This will never be your chance to teach us about how we live and what we feel. It is not a back and forth conversation. I’m teaching you first aid for People of Color.
In my life, I have ignored a lot of life lessons people had given to me at first. As I have gotten older I have to know now to open my mind and ears. Not all voices are good advice from other people. Most advice is less about me than it is about people taking to themselves. Also, sadly lots of the advice people have given me would only work if I was a white dude. People don’t like to admit that what works for white dudes doesn’t work to strive in life for people of color. I’m pointing this out as Afro -Carribean-Latino man in Black history month who is 35. So I have lived for a bit and tried this advice many times and mostly failed. Not to say I have not had little victories. I’m here …doing all these paintings with all my fans worldwide but as look at Jean-Michael Basquiat and see his struggles as a man of color being a maker and I see parallels. I don’t want that life but I wonder how does a man of color makes it big in the art world other than to meet an icon and then climb to equality? Is that even equality? I say, Andy Warhol and people, nod their heads ad I say Basquiat and I get back blank faces. It is disheartening. I think of Baldwin who made it on his own and how much waring he had to do and all I think to do is prep myself for a fight to be heard and seen as an equal.
Bloody fists can be paintbrushes too.
It will be sad to see you go but staying and not seeing is worse.
My demons are big. They are faceless and yet look like me every time I look in my dirty mirror. They have made me a hell of a fighter. I remember being a kid and not knowing how I felt about sadness and anger. I remember they just came on one day. It had nothing to do with the people who were around me over even the place I was in. I was the prisoner on Avalon and no one would ever be able to see. It was a labyrinth and I learned to paint sunshine and flowers on the walls and make it my home. I learned to be happy and calm without depending on others. Learning how to be creative without the sadness was the hardest part. The pain was my drive and when it lessened I felt like a fraud for a bit. I don’t know how I changed out of those robes. Nakedness is a good word. It was the definition of how I felt until I grew to love my nakedness. So raw and so tender like a 20-year sunburn. I stopped being Jae Jae and let myself be Jawara. I grew my hair out again and let myself be who I felt like on the inside, a new outside. The journey of a painter guys is not an easy road. it never really gets to be an easy road. But it is so deep and empowering once you hit the ground and make your mark.
The weird bit in my life was I never meant to remind people of Basquiat. It just kind of became a thing people saw in me. I remember in art school I hated that people put us in the same box. I felt it was a little racist at first but the more I educated myself the more I started to understand. We paint from the same place so to speak. The heart and-and the darkness are so opposite. Not a lot of people can think about both and not get stuck in this loop. I guess that is where we meet.
We both hate rules. The outlaw who ends ass up with bunny eared pockets feels more natural than still life paintings of fruit in bowls. I never felt like I wasn’t wasting a surface on potted plaint paintings.
I thankfully have not burned out thanks to my friends at 27. There were some years back when I was burning the candle to the nub. People need people. It’s simple but honest.
By the by,
as of this moment I have 71 YouTube suscribers and when I reach 100 subscribers I will unlock new features for my channel so I realy hope that happens. I just have this feeling I can do so much once this happens. It will be that wall I can keep tagging and the world will see it. Samo would have made it his by now.