I love making this Podcast.
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.
be nice to each other
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.
for those of us who know me you know how my Friday went.
I was towed while I was in a restaurant in their parking lot because they like to tow Black People. I got my car back free but I have to argue with them for 3 hours. I know some people will not get this and how it hurt me. Not every person understands how it is to be a target of racial profiling. I’m glad if you have never felt what it is like to be a victim. It is awful and you feel helpless. You can’t really react naturally because there is a small chance if the cops show up you could be seen as hostile and either me arrested or shot. You go from victim to criminal very fast.
I’m coming back to painting soon but I needed a few days to make peace with myself for taking a safe path.
It would have been so easy to get lost in the anger.
The short story is
The restaurant confused me with another Black Person who walked off the lot an hour before I got there and was gone before I arrived and then towed me as I ate at the restaurant. They too cover their ass after figuring out they massively fucked up made up a new story about how the property manager told me I was going to be towed for walking off the lot (which I never did. We walked into the restaurant from our car). They meant to tow a white car and mine is black but we are both Black people. They then tried to make me pay for my car for 3 hours until one of my best friends called her sister who is an attorney in Maryland (I live in Maryland.) With the chance of being sued, they gave me back my car and confessed to the lie completely over the phone. We might take legal action.
Life is hard for every person but every person doesn’t have to deal with racial discrimination.
I promise to get back soon to painting but I need a minute.