Self-portrait of a black artist in 2020

Journal Entry: June 7, 2020

 

Today, I am overwhelmed. I’m sad. I’m scared. I’m angry. I’m confused. I’m disappointed. I’m just tired... 

 

I look around at the world and I feel like I don’t know where I am. What is this place? 

 

In the mess of challenges that have hit 2020, I hear of yet another black man whose life was taken by a man in blue. A black man who cried and pleaded for just a breath of air. 

 

No sympathy for this life...and no remorse. 

 

I find it increasingly difficult to know how to respond in these times. Do I speak my mind on social media? Do I share another post? Do I protest? Do I condemn my white friends who’ve not done any of the latter? Yes, that will make me feel as though I’ve done my part... 

 

If I'm being honest what I really want to do is shut down. I want to hide until this ugliness is over because it all just feels...hopeless.

 

But I know that it won't be over.

  

As a black man walking in the shadow of death when I wear my hoodie, when I wear my cap to the side, when I speak a little too loud, when I go for a morning run, when I’m sleeping peacefully in my bed…is it really enough to proclaim #blacklivesmatter? 

 

I keep asking myself, “What do I say? More importantly, what do I do? God, who am I, and who have you called me to be at this time...in this moment?”

 

YOU ARE MY APPRENTICE...DO WHAT I DO. 

 

Imagine. Make. Encourage. Inspire. 

 

Create beauty. 

 

Reveal truth. 

 

It’s so easy to be an artist and create when everything is okay. When I am okay. Even when situations and seasons are grim, there is a part of me that can genuinely empathize with others, and then remove myself in order to create from a place of clarity. But how can I respond creatively when the pain is my own? When the darkness, hostility, injustice are all hanging out on my doorstep? 

 

I can only be honest.

 

Right now I can only be vulnerable and raise my voice through ink. I can only speak up through paint. I can only make, what some may consider “abstract ideas,” concrete and unchanging statements. I can only protest through the sincerity and truth of my words and images. 

 

And by this, I can stand in unison with my brothers and sisters in faith, in race, in solidarity, and in alliance as together we fight until every eye sees and every ear hears…

 

WE WILL BREATHE.

WE WILL LIVE.