A curious thing has happened since I first set out to draw 1001 Black Men. Somehow, I have managed to find Black people in all kinds of spaces in which I’ve been told there are no Black people. One such place is Alameda, CA. Literally a stone’s throw from Oakland, Alameda has a reputation not only for having very few Black residents, but also for being generally hostile to the presence of Black people. I cannot speak to the latter, but I can say that the African American minority is increasingly present. Over the years since I’ve been visiting Alameda–to see movies, have dinner, shop, and visit friends and family–the African American population has visibly increased, especially in the downtown shopping district.
All of this brings me to today’s drawing, because it is set in another area in which I have been told there are no African Americans, but in which I see Black people all the time. The Castro’s reputation for being hostile to the presence and participation of African American men is in many ways well-earned. But as is the case in every environment in which Black people have been shunned, excluded, or isolated, Castro’s Black patrons, residents, and visitors have pressed on, undaunted by the racism that they have encountered. The result is that there seem to be many more Black folks in the Castro than in past decades (based on what I have gleaned from older photos of that community). This brother, whose mustache seems straight out of a bygone era, was one of a number of Black men who entered or walked past the Castro area Peet’s during the two hours that I was drawing there. So were the next few men in this series.