Times Square subway station, New York, NY., April 2016.
On the day of the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest, a young Black man who appeared to be about 14 was exiting the library with his mother. Hi mom seemed to be in a hurry, as she quickly made her way out of the venue. To leave the library, they had to pass through the zine fest, and I watched as the young man looked longingly at the brightly adorned and enticing tables of art, homemade zines, and indie comics. She seemed to be very focused on leaving, but I wish she’d let him browse around the fest, for just a few minutes. The work he would have encountered just might have blown his mind; and he might have gone home to begin drawing his own zines and comics. I wish his mom would have let him browse, if only for a few minutes. I would have liked to have shown him some of my 1001 Black Men.
I am not really a dog person. I don’t particularly like the idea of scooping poop, and dog kisses are a bit wetter and slimier than I can tolerate. Also, I’m allergic to most dogs; and German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes, and similar breeds can launch me into a sneezy, congested, throat-closing allergic frenzy.
Despite all of this, I melted a little when I saw this kid standing on the corner of Foothill and 50th, cradling a sweet pit bull puppy. There was something about the gentle way he held the dog in in the crook of his arm–and something about the way the dog looked up at him with complete trust–that told me this dog would never be in a fight, would never be neglected, and would never go without.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Here’s another portrait from Broadway Volkswagen. You may wonder how I had the time to do preliminary sketches of so many men during one trip to the mechanic. Well, on weekday mornings, Broadway Volkswagen is kind of a zoo. On this, my most recent trip there, there were at least 12 people waiting just to drop off their keys, and the process was happening none too quickly. I’m not sure how the guys at the counter stayed so friendly. There were so many customers, and few of them seemed to be in a good mood. I was in a great mood, because I was getting so many drawings done.
Unfortunately, the patterns that we’ve been seeing recently are consistent: The police don’t show as much care when they are handling incidents that involve young black men and women, and so they do shoot and kill … And then for whatever reason, juries and prosecutor’s offices are much less likely to indict or convict.
–Professor Delores Jones-Brown, Director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Statistics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and a former assistant prosecutor in Monmouth County, New Jersey, from “Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?” by Jaeah Lee
Posted by Ajuan Mance
“The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.” –James Baldwin
The power of the white world is equally destabilized whenever a Black writer or artist of any gender refuses to accept the narrow range of Black images that the white world has created.
Until Black people deliberately and consistently choose to privilege in their purchases and other forms of consumption those images of Blackness that people of African descent have created in opposition to white supremacy and in the service of our own aspirations and dreams, we remain complicit in our own marginalization and objectification.
We must vote with our wallets for those African American images that affirm our diversity, our beauty, and our strengths. I have not done enough to support those writers and musicians whose works reflect the way Black folks really live; and I have spent entirely too much of my time and my money indulging in the guilty pleasure of those movies and musical performers whose images reflect not the diversity of our experiences, but rather the narrow range of Black character types on which white supremacy depends.
I need to do better. We all need to do better. We must support those creatives whose vision–expressed in music, art, on the stage, or in print–reflects the Black lives we live, rather than the Black lives the mainstream wants to believe that we live. We must Buy Black Back.
Foothill Blvd. near High St., Oakland, CA.
I love seeing Black dads with their kids. It brings back warm memories of childhood with my own amazing dad. At the same time, though, there’s something bittersweet about seeing African American men doing one of the most ordinary things in the world–being fathers to their children–and knowing that so many people in this country don’t even believe that loving Black fathers exist.